Lincoln Speedway, Hanover, PA, October 11, 1997 Jeff Shepard led all the way in 40 non-stop laps to win the inaugural Kenny Weld Memorial Race. This was the first non-stop 40 lap sprint car race in the history of Lincoln Speedway. The race,...
Lincoln Speedway, Hanover, PA, October 11, 1997
Jeff Shepard led all the way in 40 non-stop laps to win the inaugural Kenny Weld Memorial Race. This was the first non-stop 40 lap sprint car race in the history of Lincoln Speedway. The race, formerly known as the Pennsylvania State Championship Race, has been renamed to honor Weld, who passed away earlier this year. Among other accomplishments, Weld was three-time Lincoln track champion and took 71 victories here, including two Pennsylvania State Championships.
Thirty eight Super Sprints entered the event. Kevin Gobrecht appeared in the second Zemco car, #1G, while Brian Gobrecht drove the family's #7. Tim Shaffer continued his tenure in the #12 Apple car.
The evening began with time trials for the Super Sprints. Qualifying run order and times were:
12 Tim Shaffer 14.012 13.686 17E Cris Eash 13.974 13.876 2L Ed Lynch Jr. 14.157 13.558 3K Lenny Krautheim III 14.766 14.456 88 Todd Shaffer 13.710 13.521 A18 Becca Anderson 14.087 13.952 1G Kevin Gobrecht* --- 13.926 43 Larry Shive 15.048 15.334 29 Billy Brian Jr. 14.592 14.196 57 Ron Kramer 15.047 15.066 81 Bob Beidleman 14.867 14.700 77E Dave Ely 14.377 14.300 45 Jeff Rohrbaugh 14.263 14.381 59 Steve Siegel 14.012 14.070 15D Brook Weibley 14.415 14.134 16 Cliff Brian 14.591 14.372 07 Dave Haight 14.447 14.345 4J Jeff Shepard 13.891 13.729 5G Rod George 14.053 14.220 1A Joey Allen 13.783 13.627 17N Niki Young 15.516 15.758 53 Shawn Keen 14.733 14.648 55 Jimmy Layton 16.084 15.709 461 Lance Dewease 13.760 13.556 94 Glendon Forsythe 15.397 15.131 2W Jesse Wentz** 14.158 14.066 88X Sean Michael 13.946 13.930 8D Billy Dietrich 15.127 15.031 8J Danny Jones 14.323 14.252 77 Fred Rahmer 13.868 13.855 1 Billy Pauch 13.744 13.713 7C Dave Cordier 14.920 14.931 8 Dan Dietrich 14.351 14.204 69K Donnie Kreitz Jr. 14.075 13.772 2$ Tim Kuhn 14.340 14.263 7 Brian Gobrecht 14.650 14.914 7S Rick Schmelyun Jr.+ 14.824 --- 17K Scott Karl No time
* Pulled in on his first qualifying lap. Took second lap at the end. ** Because of a timing problem, Wentz was sent out at the end for a third lap. His third lap time of 14.231 did not improve his position. + Initial run not timed when Siegel was pushed off early and timed instead.
The four heats were lined up according to time, with the first six inverted. The top five from each heat transferred to the feature.
Heat 1 lineup (10 laps, 5 transfer):
45 Rohrbaugh 15D Weibley 2L Lynch 17E Eash 1 Pauch 88 Todd Shaffer 16 C. Brian 81 Beidleman 57 Kramer 55 Layton
On the start, the cars up front settled into the order Rohrbaugh, Weibley, Lynch, Eash, Shaffer and Pauch. On the third lap Ed Lynch looked under Brook Weibly going into turn 3. They emerged from turn 4 almost side by side, with Weibley holding the advantage. For the next three laps Weibly ran high and Lynch low, Weibly usually maintaining the third place position they were battling over. On the sixth lap Lynch got a slightly better run out of turn 2 and took the position on the backstretch. Two laps later Cris Eash mounted a low-line challenge on Weibley entering turn 1. They ran side-by-side down the back stretch, with Eash taking third on the bottom of turn 3.
Up front, Rohrbaugh had built a small lead over Lynch. This vanished on the final lap, when Weibley slowed in turns 3 and 4 and came to a stop on the front stretch, bringing out the heat's only yellow. He was pushed off and rejoined at the rear of the field. Lynch was now right behind Rohrbaugh. On the start, Lynch tried the low side in turns 1 and 2, but Rohrbaugh kept the lead down the back stretch. Lynch tried again in 3 and 4, this time making it work and taking the heat victory.
Heat 1 finishing order: 1. Lynch, 2. Rohrbaugh, 3. Eash, 4. Todd Shaffer, 5. Pauch, 6. C. Brian, 7. Beidleman, 8. Kramer, 9. Weibley, 10. Layton (DNF)
Heat 2 lineup (10 laps, 5 transfer):
2$ Kuhn 29 B. Brian 59 Siegel 1G K. Gobrecht 4J Shepard 461 Dewease 3K Krautheim 7S Schmelyun 43 Shive 17K Karl (DNS)
The first lap saw three-wide action as the field exited turn 2. Down the backstretch the front runners stretched out in order Kuhn, Brian, Gobrecht, Siegel, Shepard and Dewease. They maintained that order until the fifth lap when Dewease went around the outside of Shepard (who was hampered by a fouled plug) exiting turn 2, taking the fifth (and final transfer) position.
Up front, Gobrecht worked the high line trying to catch Brian for second. At first Brian kept his margin, but the line began to work for the G-man and he took second place after six laps. He set his sights for Tim Kuhn. On the last lap Gobrecht tried Kuhn high in 1 and 2, then low in 3 and 4, but settled for second place.
Heat 2 finishing order: 1. Kuhn, 2. Gobrecht, 3. B. Brian, 4. Siegel, 5. Dewease, 6. Shepard, 7. Schmelyun, 8. Krautheim, 9. Shive
Heat 3 lineup (10 laps, 5 transfer):
77E Ely 8 D. Dietrich 5G George 88X Michael 69K Kreitz 1A Allen 53 Keen 7C Cordier 94 Forsythe
On the first lap Sean Michael found the low line to his liking has he used it to move into second place in turns 1 and 2, then into the lead through 3 and 4. The order at the front as the first lap ended was Michael, Ely, Dietrich and George. On the third lap Rod George began working low to try to take third place away from Dan Dietrich. Ahead of them Sean Michael and Dave Ely held comfortably in first and second, while Donnie Kreitz owned fifth place (the final transfer) behind them. But Dietrich and George put on a race-long battle, much of it side-by-side, until the final lap when George took the advantage through 3 and 4.
Heat 3 finishing order: 1. Michael, 2. Ely, 3. George, 4. D. Dietrich, 5. Kreitz, 6. Allen, 7. Cordier, 8. Keen, 9. Forsythe
Heat 4 lineup (10 laps, 5 transfer):
07 Haight 8J Jones 2W Wentz A18 Anderson 77 Rahmer 12 Tim Shaffer (DNS) 7 B. Gobrecht 8D B. Dietrich 17N Young
As the heat began Dan Jones took the lead from the outside pole with Haight and Wentz following. Fred Rahmer moved into fourth, ahead of Becca Anderson who held onto the final transfer. Two laps later Wentz passed Haight in 2 and 4 for second place. A lap later Rahmer went under Haight for third, then set out after Wentz. On the sixth lap Fast Freddy took the high line around Wentz in 1 and 2, taking second place on the backstretch. Rahmer then slowed in 3 and 4, and came to a stop on the front stretch,bringing out the yellow. After the #77 was pushed into the pits, the race resumed with the five transfer spots occupied by Jones, Wentz, Haight, Anderson and Gobrecht. Wentz tried the low line on Jones several times, but could not find the advantage that had been there in the earlier heats, while the rest of the field strung out and finished in the same order as the restart.
Heat 4 finishing order: 1. Jones, 2. Wentz, 3. Haight, 4. Anderson, 5. B. Gobrecht, 6. Young, 7. B. Dietrich, 8. Rahmer (DNF)
Consolation lineup (12 laps, 4 transfer):
77 Rahmer 4J Shepard 12 Tim Shaffer 1A Allen 15D Weibley 16 C. Brian 3K Krautheim 53 Keen 81 Beidleman 7S Schmelyun 7C Cordier 8D B. Dietrich 57 Kramer 43 Shive 94 Forsythe 17N Young (DNS) 55 Layton 17K Kark (DNS)
Within a couple of laps of the start, the order at the front settled down to Rahmer, Shepard, Allen, Tim Shaffer, C. Brian and Weibley. The field strung out with most of the passing involving lapped cars. With little action, the race ran at a torrid pace, coming within .07 second of the 12-lap record set by Joe Gaerte when the Outlaws vistied Lincoln this past May.
As the field was taking the checkered flag, tenth-finisher Bob Beidleman went up in a cloud of smoke going into turn 1 after the checker. He laid down a trail of fluid in 1 and 2, and came to a stop near the end of 2. There was an axious moment as an ambulance was called to his car. After a few minutes it was announced that Bob was not hurt.
Consolation finishing order: 1. Rahmer, 2. Shepard, 3. Allen, 4. Tim Shaffer, 5. C. Brian, 6. Weibley, 7. Cordier, 8. Krautheim, 9. Keen, 10. Beidleman, 11. Kramer, 12. Schmelyun, 13. Forsythe, 14. Shive, 15. Layton, 16. B. Dietrich
The 40 lap, $5000 to win feature was lined up according to qualifying times, with the first six inverted. The lineup was:
4J Shepard 1 Pauch 12 Tim Shaffer 1A Allen 461 Dewease 88 Todd Shaffer 69K Kreitz 77 Rahmer 17E Eash 1G K. Gobrecht 88X Michael A18 Anderson 2L Lynch 59 Siegel 5G George 2W Wentz 29 B. Brian 8 D. Dietrich 8J Jones 45 Rohrbaugh 2$ Kuhn 77E Ely 07 Haight 7 B. Gobrecht Alternates: 16 C. Brian 15D Weibley
There was drama as the field was pushed off and lined up when both Zemco cars returned to the pits. One was seen to be leaking fuel, so both of the identically-painted cars were flagged in. The leak was found to be in Pauch's #1. Pauch watched the race from the roof of the Zemco trailer, while Gobrecht rejoined the field in the #1G and first alternate Cliff Brian was pushed off.
On the last parade lap, Cris Eash came to a stop in turn 2. He was pushed into the pits while the track crew picked up pieces of brakes from turn 2. Eash was credited with 24th place and 23 cars took the green.
Shepard took the lead on the green, while the next three cars in the lineup emerged from turn 2 in the order Allen, Todd Shaffer and Tim Shaffer. Rahmer passed Dewease on the start, then moved past Tim Shaffer on the backstretch for fourth place. Over the next few laps Shepard stretched out a comfortable lead on the field, and Rahmer closed in on Todd Shaffer. Kevin Gobrecht entered the pits on the fourth lap. On the seventh lap Shepard began to lap slower cars. On the eighth lap Rahmer mounted an assault on Todd Shaffer. He went under him in turns 1 and 2, but was baulked by traffic on the backstretch. On the next lap they were side by side down the front stretch and into turns 1 and 2. Shaffer lightly brushed the turn 2 wall with no harm, but losing just enough momentum to settle things in Rahmer's favor.
Over the next few laps Dewease's car began to hook up and he began moving forward. Joey Allen began sliding slowly back in the field. Rahmer worked on clsoing the gap between him and Shepard, taking advantage of traffic. As the field worked lap 20, Shepard was slowed as he got caught behind Steve Siegel. Rahmer was right behind Shepard, and tried low in 1 and 2, then 3 and 4 with no success. The high line was the fast way around 2, with a narrow cushion that sometimes had the leaders leaning on the fence instead of the dirt. Rahmer bobbled turn 2 on lap 21, falling back by half a dozen car lengths. He was caught up again three laps later, and tried low in 1 and 2, with no success.
Further back, Dewease's move forward was showing success as he took third place from Todd Shaffer. Two laps later it was Rahmer's turn to use the turn 2 wall as a cushion as he yet again failed to get around Shepard. By then Shepard had dispensed with lapped cars that were impeding him and he built a comfortable lead over Rahmer. He continued to drive all out. On the final lap he rim-rode around fourth place Todd Shaffer in 1 and 2, leaving only Rahmer and Dewease on the lead lap with him as he took the checkered flag.
This was the first non-stop 40 lap race in the history of Lincoln Speedway. A record time of 10:31.67 was established.
In Victory Lane, Shepard climbed out of his car, sat on the right front tire, took a cool drink and caught his breath. "That was the longest, hardest 40 laps of my life" were his first words to the crowd. He credited his crew and car owners: "I can't say enough for the crew - Todd, Herbie and Dave - and the car owners - Les and Linda. Here again they're giving me the equipment to do the job. If I can just keep from falling out of the seat after doing 40 hard laps I'll be all right."
When asked about the race, the condition of turn 2, and Rahmer's challenge, he said "There wasn't much...cushion left and I was using the guard rail a couple of times. I figured if I'm out front and I knew Fred was right there...and I seen him beside me...I figure I was going to either win it or wear it. And luckily we're sitting here in victory lane".
Jeff said that car owners Les and Linda Stewart told him last week that "...we could follow the Outlaws. We're leaving Tuesday. We're gonna run the last 10 Oulaw shows." That will get them geared up for next year, when their plan is to run with the World of Oulaws.
He finished his interview with a tribute to the fans. "I'd like to thank all the fans for coming out here, because without all you guys we wouldn't be here."
1. 4J Shepard 2. 77 Rahmer 3. 461 Dewease 4. 88 Todd Shaffer 5. 69K Kreitz 6. 2W Wentz 7. 1A Allen 8. 59 Siegel 9. 77E Ely 10. 88X Michael 11. 2L Lynch 12. 5G George 13. 7 B. Gobrecht 14. A18 Anderson 15. 8J Jones 16. 45 Rohrbaugh 17. 12 Tim Shaffer 18. 2$ Kuhn 19. 29 B. Brian 20. 8 D. Dietrich 21. 1G K. Gobrecht 22. 16 C. Brian 23. 07 Haight 24. 17E Eash
Time: 10:31.67. 14 cars running. 4J, 77, 461 on lead lap.
Ken Plotkin - Motorsport News International