Oswego, NY - While most are eager to return to Jennerstown Speedway on Saturday, June 26, there are mixed emotions. The last time the ISMA supermodifieds ran at the track in 1999, they lost a good friend and racing compatriot. Young New Englander...
Oswego, NY - While most are eager to return to Jennerstown Speedway on Saturday, June 26, there are mixed emotions. The last time the ISMA supermodifieds ran at the track in 1999, they lost a good friend and racing compatriot. Young New Englander Randy Witkum had succumbed to injuries incurred at an accident there earlier in the day and there were heavy hearts throughout the racing fraternity. Now, after a four-year absence, Jennerstown is back on the 2004 ISMA schedule of events with a 75-lapper scheduled. This event will make it an even dozen races for ISMA at the famed Pennsylvania half-mile since 1988.
The ISMA Lucas Oil/Helping Hands America contingent first appeared at Jennerstown in that year, with a June and a September show. Legendary Bentley Warren, driving for Mike Mazur, took home both feature mains, wearing the late Piney Laskey's traditional cowboy hat in victory lane with pride.
In 1989, Eddie Bellinger Jr. stole half of Warren's thunder by winning the June event, but Bentley was back to cop his third Jennerstown victory in September. 1990 found only one ISMA event on the slate with Canadian Gary Morton winning that one. Warren was back for another win in 1991 and became a five-time Jennerstown victor by winning the 1993 show. Pennellville, NY's Pat Abold won it in 1992 and Mike Ordway won the September event in 1994, the first of two for that New Hampshire driver. 2003 ISMA champion Chris Perley came on the scene in 1995 and although he was not a regular on the ISMA trail at the time, he came away with the win. A flat tire-pit miscue in 1996 prevented Perley a possible repeat as Abold went on to his second win.
Several years went by before the ISMA group returned to the Jennerstown facility in 1999 and it was not a pleasant trip for anyone who made it. On August 14, 25-year old Randy Witkum became involved in a multi-car heat race accident, which eventually claimed his young life.
But, this is 2004. The always-fast Jennerstown oval has been repaved with a five-inch polymer asphalt surface within the past weeks. The first turn wall has been extended. It's a new ball game. And, many of the drivers are ready to re turn to what they consider one of the best ovals on the circuit for the ultra-fast winged supermodifieds.
Said the 2003 ISMA champ and current 2004-point leader Chris Perley from his Rowley, Mass. Marina business. "I can't wait to get back to Jennerstown. I wasn't at the 1999 show. I missed Randy's accident. You can't dwell on things like that however. If you did you wouldn't get back in a racecar. I certainly hope nothing like that ever happens again. I hope we have a great, safe race there. The new paving will make it faster, but the last time I was there, it was fast. I think I still hold the record there, but I'm not sure. I love Jennerstown. I hope it loves me. It's a beautiful facility. I just hope it doesn't rain, and if it does, that I'm leading the race at the time."
Two-time Jennerstown winner Pat Abold reiterated some of Perley's sentiments. "I've always loved Jennerstown. It's a great place and it's a fast place. The new smooth surface should make it a lot faster and more fun. It should have a better grip. Jennerstown is the track we come closest to being able to run flat out all around."
Six-time ISMA Champion and All-Time Feature winner, Russ Wood, has not notched a win yet at Jennerstown. He'd surely like to. Said the driver of the Dunigan Racing 29, "Jennerstown is a great facility to race at. I've always liked it. It should be wicked fast with the new pavement. I hope we have a good, safe race down there and I hope I win it."
Jennerstown Speedway is located off Exit 10 (Somerset) of the PA Turnpike, taking Rt. 985 north about ten miles. Pit gates open for the combo Craftsman Tools ISMA Lucas Oil/Helping Hands America 75 and WSOA 305 Sprints show on June 26 at 2:30 with main gates at 4:30. Racing begins at 6 pm. Super Late Models, Late Models and the PA Legacy Series join the open-wheeled divisions for a full night of racing. Go to www.jennerstown.com for further information or call the Speedway office at 814.629.6677 for ticket info. ISMA information may be obtained by logging onto ISMAsupers.com.