Selinsgrove 410 Series kickoff preview

Middleswarth 410 Series kickoff is March 28, long company history in racing continues with green flag. 3/2/03, Selinsgrove, PA -- The Friday, March 28 kickoff of the 2003 Middleswarth Potato Chips Susquehanna Valley 410 Sprint Series ...

Middleswarth 410 Series kickoff is March 28, long company history in racing continues with green flag.

3/2/03, Selinsgrove, PA -- The Friday, March 28 kickoff of the 2003 Middleswarth Potato Chips Susquehanna Valley 410 Sprint Series at Selinsgrove Speedway is under a month away. The sprint cars will vie for $2,500 to win in a 25-lap feature and with the first laps will begin yet another season of involvement by Middleswarth Chips in local auto racing.

Located in Middleburg, Snyder County, Middleswarth Potato Chips currently fields the 410 powered sprint cars of Mifflintown's Keith Kauffman and Middleburg's Todd Hestor. The leading snack food producer is also a primary supporter of 358-sprint driver Blane Heimbach of Selinsgrove who competes weekly at Selinsgrove on Saturday nights.

Both Kauffman and Hestor will spend their fifth season together in 2003 and the pair will compete in the Middleswarth 410 Sprint Series at Selinsgrove Speedway. Heimbach will be in his second season behind the wheel of a full size machine and he too will compete in the Middleswarth Series with a specially ordered 410 under the hood.

All three men will be vying for three wins in the series in an effort to pocket the 2003 Chip Challenge as posted by Middleswarth. If one driver can claim three events he'll pocket an extra $10,000 for his efforts and one lucky fan will get $500.

That's where Middleswarth Potato Chips efforts are today. But where have they been?

The trio of teammates represents a fifth decade of drivers who have carried the Middleswarth logo around Central Pennsylvania speedways.

Founded in 1932 by Ira and Lottie Middleswarth, Middleswarth Potato Chips was originally located in the Snyder County borough of Beavertown. By 1961, the demand for Middleswarth products forced the operation to expand to its 90,000 square foot current facility, five miles east of its original location

The fast growing company first got involved in auto racing in the 1960's, when it sponsored the 00 sprint car at Selinsgrove Speedway. Behind the wheel of the 00 was the brother of a chip plant foreman by the name of Ken Wagner.

From Wagner in the 60's, Middleswarth sponsorship moved to the limited late model class at Selinsgrove in the late 1970's and to the No. 49 machine of driver Phil Lash of Beaver Springs.

In the early 80's, when Lash moved from the stock car class to the open wheel sprint cars, Middleswarth went along for the ride. But by the end of the decade, the familiar green and yellow logo was sported on a different car, the No. 98 of Allentown driver Brian Seidel.

Middleswarth stuck with Seidel into the early 90's when he moved to the KARS limited sprint division. Aboard the No. 50, Seidel flew the chip banner through 1993.

Racing involvement took on a different complexion for Middleswarth in 1994 when veteran ace Barry Camp put one of his sprint cars on the auction block. With the opportunity to purchase a car, team Middleswarth was formed with micro sprint driver Randy Plummer of McClure as the pilot.

The team of Middleswarth and Plummer started off 1995 together but the pairing ended in April when a high altitude crash launched Plummer over Selinsgrove's third and fourth turns, ending his career. After a few weeks off, the team called Camp to become the full time pilot of the Middleswarth No. 7.

Camp led the inexperienced team over the next three seasons, breaking them into the weekly sprint car wars at Selinsgrove. In June of 1996 the team recorded its first win, with Camp at the wheel. Finishing behind Camp at the checkered flag was Joey Borich, Sunbury; Todd Gracey, Brodbecks; Randy Wolfe, Mechanicsburg; and a youngster to the scene by the name of Todd Hestor.

By mid 1998, Camp was making it known he would be retiring. By season's end, the search was on for the next man to fill the seat. It was September when Hestor was called upon to jockey the car. The driver had been finishing well on a regular basis, showing steady improvement and after some impressive runs, he landed a Middleswarth ride.

Increasing its involvement in the sport, team Middleswarth took a huge step when it branched out into a two-car team. 1999 took the green flag with the 7M of Hestor and the 7 of 30-year Mifflintown veteran Keith Kauffman on the track.

2000 was the year both teams began making their mark. Both men ended the season with a total of 11 wins having been scored under the Middleswarth banner. Having stepped up his program, Hestor scored the first win of his career at Selinsgrove Speedway while Kauffman notched nine of the victories overall. Kauffman was declared co-champion with Todd Shaffer at Selinsgrove.

2002 proved to be another stellar season for the chip team. It held the most wins ever in a single season for Hestor, five in all including the biggest win of his career in the inaugural Jan Opperman Memorial at Selinsgrove. Kauffman won his 11th career title at Port Royal Speedway, his third for Middleswarth while picking up 12 checkered flags.

2002 also found Heimbach joining the chip team. The youngster picked up his first sprint win early in the season at Selinsgrove while also claiming the Clinton County Speedway track title.

And it was in 2002 when Middleswarth joined the promotional game, joining forces with Selinsgrove Speedway to present a very successful 410 sprint series at the half-mile facility while working to revitalize it.

2003 finds Middleswarth Potato Chips expanding the series to five dates in all, beginning with the show later this month. The Friday night program will be the first of it's kind at the track in ten years.

As Middleswarth Potato Chips rolls through its fifth decade of involvement in local motorsports in the 2000's, it does so with third and fourth generations of the Middleswarth family toiling on a daily basis at the plant. Car Owner Dave and his son Bret proudly help guide the business along with Dave's father and Bret's grandfather, second generation leader Bob Middleswarth.

The Middleswarth family, including 100 additional employees, produces eight different varieties of potato chips daily that can be found at local convenience stores as well as in most Weis, Giant, Price Chopper, Mr. Z's, Bi-Lo, Wegmans and Sheetz Supermarkets along with Wal-Mart Shopping Centers.

The next exciting chapter of Middleswarth Potato Chips involvement in racing begins on March 28 at 8 PM with practice laps slated for 7:30. Gates for the two-division show open at 6 PM.


Friday, March 28 -- Sprints and Pro Stocks

Sunday, May 4 -- 2nd Annual Jan Opperman Memorial and Super Sportsman
     (raindate Sunday, June 1)

Sunday, July 6 -- 13th Annual Pennsylvania Speedweek Finale
     (raindate Monday, July 7)

Monday, September 1 -- Labor Day Classic and Super Sportsman

Saturday, September 13 -- 21st Annual Alexander Family Dealerships Sprint
Nationals for 410 and 358 Sprints + Fireworks
     (raindate Sunday, September 14)


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