By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE -- Selinsgrove Speedway will honor the memory of sprint car driver Joe Whitcomb with the 10th annual running of the Joe Whitcomb Memorial on Saturday for 358 sprint cars.
The speedway begins its 7:30 p.m. summer start time on Saturday.
The 30-lap sprint car feature, a tribute to honor the late open-wheel racer from Millersburg who succumbed to injuries sustained in a sprint car racing accident at the track on June 21, 2003, will pay $1,771 to the winner. Time trials, heat races, and a B-main will be the qualifying format for the special event.
The four-division show includes the late models, pro stocks, and roadrunners.
Previous winners of the Whitcomb Memorial include Nate Snyder of Halifax (2004); Kevin Nagy of East Brunswick, N.J. (2005); Blane Heimbach of Selinsgrove (2006-08); Pat Cannon of Etters (2009-10); and two-time defending winner T.J. Stutts of Liverpool.
Whitcomb, a dedicated racer most of his life, began his career in go-karts at the age of 7. He was a three-time national karting champion. A highlight during his karting career was an appearance on ESPN.
In 2001, Whitcomb became a regular competitor at Selinsgrove in the 358 sprint car division. That year, Whitcomb became speedway's Sportsman of the Year. Whitcomb won his first sprint car race at Selinsgrove on June 8, 2002, ending the five-race winning streak of champion Chad Layton. Whitcomb also won sprint car races at Williams Grove and Bridgeport Speedways during his career.
There will be no racing on the half-mile track Saturday, June 22, as Selinsgrove Raceway Park will host the Pennsylvania Elite Dirt Karters Series event June 22-23 on the one-fifth mile track.
The 12th running of the Middleswarth Potato Chips Firecracker 30 for 358 sprint cars takes place on June 29.
n STORM REPORT: The seventh annual United States Auto Club Eastern Storm is in the books and Noblesville, Ind., driver Bryan Clauson, won the title by one point over Port Royal winner Dave Darland of Lincoln, Ind. It was Darland's 42nd career USAC Natioanl Sprint Car win. Shane Cottle of Kokomo, Ind., won the finale at Susquehanna Speedway Park on Sunday by .114 seconds over Kevin Thomas Jr.
The race at Path Valley was rained out.
Sikeston, Mo., driver Daron Clayton won the opener last Wednesday in a thrilling racing at the Grandview Speedway in the 30-lap Jesse Hockett Classic.
n TRY, TRY AGAIN: The All-Star Circuit of Champions returns tonight to Williams Grove Speedway. Joining the All-Stars tonight will be the ARDC Midgets. Tonight's 30-lap, 410-sprint car feature pays $5,000 to the winner. Donnie Kreitz, currently second in the track's 410 point standings, won the All-Star race in April. The touring 410 series is winless at the track since their first appearance in 1970.
n FAN APPRECIATION NIGHT: Port Royal Speedway is presenting Fan Appreciation Night on Saturday with an adult general admission ticket costing $10. A three-division show is on tap of 410 sprints, super late models and PASS 305 sprints. Harrisburg's Chad Layton leads Selinsgrove's Blane Heimbach by five points in the 410 standings.
n A TRIBUTE TO CHRIS: Chris Economaki, the late dean of American motorsports and the first-ever announcer at Selinsgrove Speedway, will be the topic of discussion on Saturday at the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen, N.Y. The free talk, part of the on-going Center Conversations speaker series, will start at 1 p.m. and is open to the public.
n NO MORE RAIN PLEASE: For the fifth time this season, Big Diamond Speedway was rained out last Friday. The Crazy-8s features for the roadrunner division is now set for July 19.\
Tonight, the track pays tribute to Andy Fayash Jr., who passed away a few weeks ago with a 45-lap sportsman modified feature, paying $1,570 to the winner.