Selingsgrove Speedway - 22nd Annual Gunn Memorial preview

22nd Annual Gunn Memorial May 25, remembering a promoter. 5/19/02, Selinsgrove, PA - Highlighted by fireworks, Memorial Day weekend's sprint car program at Selinsgrove Speedway on May 25 will be a tribute to the man best known for establishing...

22nd Annual Gunn Memorial May 25, remembering a promoter.

5/19/02, Selinsgrove, PA - Highlighted by fireworks, Memorial Day weekend's sprint car program at Selinsgrove Speedway on May 25 will be a tribute to the man best known for establishing Selinsgrove Speedway and Central Pennsylvania as the nation's hotbed for sprint car racing.

First contested in 1981, the Jack Gunn Memorial has become one of the crown jewels of the Snyder County oval's season.

Born Jack Gunnells in Hancock, Md. and raised in Lebanon, Pa., Jack Gunn is world renown for his announcing and promotional prowess in motorsports.

After becoming involved in the sport as a driver and mechanic and following a stint in the armed forces, Gunn acquired the promotional lease on the famed Williams Grove Speedway in 1967 and followed suit a year later by picking up the big half-mile known as Selinsgrove Speedway.

And it was under his guidance that sprint car racing became a staple attraction in Central Pennsylvania and Selinsgrove Speedway went along for the ride, becoming nationally known for attracting one of the toughest weekly fields of competition across the country while experiencing its most prosperous years.

It was Gunn who first brought Selinsgrove's 1973 champion, the immortal Jan Opperman to the region to battle with Kenny Weld in 1970. And it was Gunn's KARS Circuit driver's, namely Mitch Smith, who did the unthinkable at the time, turning back the invading USAC stars at Selinsgrove.

At the end of the 1979 season, after building an empire that also included promoting at the Hagerstown, Md. Speedway and the now defunct Penn National Speedway, Gunn was forced to resign his position as promoter due to a battle with cancer.

Gunn was honored nationally as Promoter of the Year in 1979 but after accepting his award at Daytona in February of 1980, Gunn lost his battle at the age of 48 in the fall of that year.

Every year since that time, Selinsgrove Speedway has honored the fallen promotional master with the Annual Jack Gunn Memorial, which will celebrate it's 22nd running on May 25.

Initially a 410-sprint car event, the memorial is now coveted by the speedway's weekly sprint car warriors in the 358 ranks with Liverpool driver TJ Stutts having picked up the first checkered flag for the division last season.

Over the years, some of the sports rising stars and most elite have captured the event, including Lynn Paxton, Steve Kinser, Doug Wolfgang, Stevie Smith, Cris Eash and Jeff Shepard.

The 2002, 30-lap contest will pay $1,500 to the winner. Gates for the holiday program, sponsored by HPI of Selinsgrove, open at 5 p.m. with racing slated for 7 p.m.

Selinsgrove Speedway Jack Gunn Memorial Winners: 1981 -- Lynn Paxton, 1982 -- Steve Kinser, 1983 -- Keith Kauffman, 1984 -- Steve Kinser, 1985 -- Doug Wolfgang, 1986 -- Doug Wolfgang, 1987 -- Jim Nace, 1988 -- Stevie Smith, 1989 -- Todd Shaffer, 1990 -- Stevie Smith, 1991 -- Randy Wolfe, 1992 -- Randy Wolfe, 1993 -- Cris Eash, 1994 -- Jim Nace, 1995 -- Todd Shaffer, 1996 -- Keith Kauffman, 1997 -- Todd Shaffer, 1998 -- Fred Rahmer, 1999 -- Jeff Shepard, 2000 -- Todd Shaffer, 2001 -- T. J. Stutts

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Series Sprint
Drivers Steve Kinser
Teams Williams