The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

July 3, 2014

Shawn Wood on The Inside Track: Speedweek at the bull ring

SELINSGROVE — If there is one song that is a perfect fit for the grind of the 2014 Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek, it’s Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again.”

Heading into tonight’s race at Williams Grove, the series will have raced six nights in seven days at three very different tracks.

And there’s still three more nights to go following Thursday’s racing at Port Royal.

Talk about a road trip!

Sunday night saw the series return to Path Valley Speedway in a race which Hall-of-Famer Fred Rahmer promoted.

I had never been to Path Valley and I was looking forward to seeing my first race there on the quarter-mile bull ring.

It’s a really nice drive through the country from Selinsgrove to Spring Run, where the track is located. It makes you appreciate just how beautiful our state is, with the rolling hills, quaint little towns and farm lands you pass by.

The one thing that was very interesting about that trip occurred on the way home. I wasn’t a quarter-mile from the track when I came upon six horse-and-buggy carriages at 12:10 a.m.

Yes, you read right, horse-and-buggies on the road at midnight just after the race crowd was getting out.

Route 75 is pretty curvy, so it made for a few tense moments to carefully get around them. Getting back to racing, there are times when you get to a race track and you take a look at it and it has “racy” written all over it.

Sunday night was one of those times.

As much as I love the speed of the 410s on the half-mile tracks, the close racing action on the bull rings at times is hard to beat.

Standing on the inside of the track gives you a pretty good perspective on just how much the drivers are really working the wheel on the bull rings. They’ll tell you it’s no Sunday afternoon drive.

There were a lot of folks who had been talking about going to the race and did they ever show up.

We’ve all heard fans say they are going to a certain race and at times things do come up and not everybody who said they were coming actually showed up, but this time they did.

With the track built into the side of the mountain, you had your regular grandstand seating, then you had the hillside seating along with some areas to park behind it.

Looking over at the grandstand as twilight was setting it, it was as packed as most folks thought it would be.

Sunday was a very warm and humid day, but 42 sprint cars and 36 600 winged micro sprints sure brought out the fans.

While he has retired from the sport, Rahmer is still very much active in it as his two boys, Freddie Jr. and Brandon, are both racing a 410 at Lincoln.

What has not been lost on Fred is that he’s still a racer at heart.

He came up with incentives to get guys to race, which include money for winning a heat race, and a right-rear tire being given away by a fan to his or her favorite driver or to someone who needed it the most.

As I’ve said in numerous columns before, we have to find ways to get the fans more involved and the tire give away is a great idea.

Making the drivers race for a heat win and the money that came with it actually spilled over into the feature.

There was a lot of action packed into the 40-lap feature that saw Danny Dietrich, Lucas Wolfe and Brady Bacon all take turns at the point, and behind them there were three-car battles for third for most of the race.

The race was won by Bacon, who is also the current United States Auto Club National Sprint Car points leader.

Fred said that he wanted to send the fans and drivers home happy.

There’s no doubt Sunday’s race was a grand slam.

I am looking forward to getting back to Path Valley and seeing more action at the bull ring.

n Shawn Wood covers motorsports for The Daily Item. Comments can be sent to sports@dailyitem.com

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