Path Valley awards ceremony report

Path Valley Honors Sprint and Stock Car Champions Spring Run, PA_ No news is good news for Path Valley Speedway Park sprint and stock car drivers. Senior Race Director John Winsett announced that there would be no significant tech or racing...

Path Valley Honors Sprint and Stock Car Champions

Spring Run, PA_ No news is good news for Path Valley Speedway Park sprint and stock car drivers.

Senior Race Director John Winsett announced that there would be no significant tech or racing rules changes for the 2004 season as Two Wheel Promotions honored the 2003 season's top racers Saturday night at the Pleasant Hall Firehall.

"The only changes for 2004 are safety rules issues with the Strictly Stock junkyard cars, and they have been posted on our website for nearly a month," Winsett told almost 400 before announcer Rob Keller began the awards presentations.

Rookie of the Year honors went to Rod Schell who drives the #00 in 600 Sprints. Schell finished his first season eighth in points. Winning the Rising Star award was Jake Murphy of Carlisle who finished the season 13 points ahead of his brother, Ben, in the 600 Sprints micro class.

Sportsman of the Year honors went to Kevin Thomas of St. Thomas who drives the #3C in mini stocks. Thomas began the season with major issues about rules enforcement but finished third in points with a win in the last race.

The track's top champion this season, and the butt of many resulting jokes, was Scott Ellerman of Landisburg who drives the #115 in the full-size 305 Sprints class. Ellerman has won the points chase for three consecutive seasons in that class and he is the only 305 Sprints champion Path Valley has ever had.

"I've got a great crew and mechanic that make sure I can finish every race, and I need to thank them and all the sponsors that help me afford this," Ellerman said. While Von McGee and then Joe Hershey had the most 305 Sprints wins at Path Valley, Ellerman finished all but two races in the top five and led the points from June to the end of the season Oct. 24. The top ten in 305 Sprints for 2003 are Ellerman, Chris Meleason, Von McGee, Mike Freet, Todd Spangler, Ryan Lynn, Jim Wentz, Brent Comp, Jim Roush and Travis Keeney.

Announcer Rob Keller recognized the top ten in each division and presented trophies and points money to those in attendance while Friday night fuel and tire supplier John Goshorn of Goshorn Racing Supply presented championship jackets.

All of the 2003 champions plan to defend their titles, with the possible exception of Brian Walker of Somerset. Walker, the 270 Sprints champion in his first full season at Path Valley, said he hopes to race a 410 super sprint next season. "I loved racing here because the competition is the very best," he said, " and if I don't get a faster ride I hope to be back." Top ten in 270 Sprints are Walker, Rodney Glass, Matt Miller, Sean good, Mike Dicely, Craig Myers, Todd Steffy, Jim Young, Alex Cunningham, and Josh Dressler.

Jim Young, who pulls his championship Predator 600 Sprint clear from the Johnstown suburbs every Friday night, said he will definitely be back to defend his Path Valley championship. "My fans and sponsors and Predator expect a lot of me and I won't let them down," he said. Young finished the season just 35 points ahead of last year's champion, Jim Brookens. Young also raced in the 270 Sprints and was less successful defending his Valvoline Cup National Championship. The top drivers were Young, Brookens, Duane Harbaugh, Jim Callahan, Donnie Hendershot, Mike Dicely, Jason Starr, Rod Schell, Jake Murphy and Ben Murphy.

The V-8 Street Stock racers will have Randy Patterson of Shippensburg to beat again next season, and Patterson said he expects few changes from his 2003 routine and racing program. Because of low numbers, the street stocks will race every other week again, at least to start the season, alternating again with the 305 Sprints that also race every other week. The top ten in the street stocks for 2003 are Patterson, Terry O'Donel, Tim Fedder, Wayne Hawbaker, Doug Hoffman, Matt Kauffman, Jeff Johnson, Dave Fahnestock, Steve Lowery and Mark Whitsel.

Shippensburg's Jerry Bard will be back in a mini stock next season, and he expects some real hard competition from the likes of Thomas, Gary DeHart, Kyle Wiser and a half dozen other top four-cylinder drivers. "Ricky Harper has four or five or six championships and we'd love to win the title more than once," he said. "These guys are great to race against and fun to kid and we just love racing here," the garage owner said. The top ten recognized at the banquet were Bard, Dehart, Thomas, Wiser, Harper, Steve McCartney, Barry Welsh, Tim Burkholder, Mike Beidel and Brenda McCartney.

John Rasp of McConnellsburg finished the season with 84 more points than Melvin Bigler in the four-cylinder thunder cars and feels confident that if he isn't racing a street stock he can win races next season. The thunder cars are the entry-level stock car at Path Valley and attract as many local fans as any other class. The top ten drivers honored were Rasp, Melvin Bigler, Raymond Middaugh, Terry Smith, Keith Armolt, Dave Ricker, Derrick Casner, Duane Ricker, Chris Casner and Wes Schofield.

In the specialty classes, the Central PA Legends Cars were fully represented and season champion Alan Felix of Shippensburg said he and all the other regular drivers plan to be back next year to race on the smooth Path Valley clay. Felix, who holds past national titles, won the Path Valley championship with consistent top five finishes by more than 100 points ahead of Randy Fetterolf, 579 to 475. The top ten honored in Legends were Felix, Fetterolf, Greg Burd, Lawrence Garrison, Ray Swank, Denny Rothermel, Nathan Fisher, Darryl Bloom, Bob Murray and Butch Brough.

A complete 2004 schedule will be released at the pre-season car shows. Path Valley operators Two Wheel Promotions plans to open the season in mid-March. Racing Friday nights will be 305 Sprints, 270 Sprints, 600 Sprints, Legends, Mini Stocks, Dwarfs, V-8 Street Stocks and Four-Cylinder Thunder Cars.

Saturday afternoon racing will be confined to Karts and Quads except for one or two special shows, and Saturday night racing will alternate the Strictly Stocks with Motorcycles and Quads. The kart, quad and motorcycle champions were honored in a special ceremony prior to the Fourth Annual Awards Banquet, and many remained for the dancing that followed the sprint and stock car awards.

The Dwarf Cars were not represented because of a conflict with a major national championship race. Recognized were the top ten with wishes that one of the Path Valley regular racers would bring home a national title. They are Mike Hay of Somerset, Josh Sigman, Lynn Knepper, Wes Zimmerman, Greg Johnson, John Gerula, Jeff Barclay, Brian Pietsch, Tom Showman and Frank Dunkle.

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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About this article
Series Sprint , Stock car
Drivers Chris Meleason , Von McGee