By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
While it is great to get back to our weekly motorsports coverage at The Daily Item, the offseason saw the passing of some great people in the sport.
Former Syracuse big block modified winner Doug Hoffman passed away unexpectedly on Christmas Eve, he was 53. Hoffman, who began his 32-year racing career at Dorney Park Speedway, was promoter of the 5/8th-mile Bridgeport Speedway (N.J.), and from 2005-2011 he was the promoter at the Mahoning Valley Speedway in Lehighton.
Late model race Carl Billet passed away on February 24, a day after accepting his sixth late model track championship at the Susquehanna Raceway Park. He was 58.
Gordon “Butch” Book, a true gentleman in every sense of the word, was a flagman at Williams Grove and Selinsgrove Speedway. He passed away in January at the age of 65.
Lastly, sports editor Harold Raker lost his father on February 21 at age 89.
May they all rest in peace.
*While Mother Nature has played havoc with the early racing season, Lincoln Speedway continues to be one step ahead of her as four races have produced four different winners.
Brian Montieth won the Icebreaker 30 for the third time in the last five years on opening day. Other winners included Jim Siegel, Brent Marks and Ohio invader Cole Duncan. Marks is the current points leader over Fred Rahmer by 55 points.
*The All Stars kick of their Northern Tour this weekend along with the Ohio Region of the series with the 22nd annual Spring Nationals at Attica Raceway Park.
Dale Blaney of Hartford, Ohio, is the points leader after two events in Florida. Blaney, who has 93 career All Star wins, is five wins away from tying Kenny Jacobs for most wins in the series history. The Steel City Outlaw, Tim Shaffer, of Aliquippa, has won the last four All Star championships, while Lance Dewease won last year’s Eastern Region title.
Former Central PA driver Daryn Pittman has two wins and is the early-season point leader for the World of Outlaws sprint cars. Pittman leads Paul McMahan by 78 points. Steve Kinser is 12th in the points, 244 behind Pittman.
Lucas Wolfe of Mechanicsburg is having early-season success with his new race team. He is third in the ASCS National points and has a top-five finish and four top-10s along with two quick times in a handful of races with the Outlaws.
*Big Diamond Speedway opened its 41st season on March 23 with 59 modifieds (31 358s, 28 sportsman modifieds) signed in despite temperatures not climbing out of the 40s.
New York modified campaigner Bobby Varin and Big Diamond standout Duane Howard put on a great race in the 30-lap feature until several lapped cars changed the outcome of the race.
Varin got on the breaks to avoid slower cars but got spun by Howard (he, too, was on the brakes), resulting in both drivers going to the rear. Craig VonDohren, the defending 358 track champion won the $3,000, 30-lap feature. Varin rallied to finish fourth while Howard was fifth.
The forecast for Saturday is for sunny skies and a high of 52 degrees which is a nice way to finally kick off the 2013 seasons at Selinsgrove and Port Royal speedways. Both tracks cancelled for cold weather over the past few weeks.
*For the first time in the six-year history of the Race of Champions big block modified season opener at Selinsgrove, the Icebreaker was snowed out and the overnight cold temperatures would not have allowed sufficient time for track preparation on Sunday.
The groundhog’s prediction for an early spring has not been meet favorably by race fans. His predictions over the last few years are about believable as DI sports editor Harold Raker switching sides to become a Yankees fan. The later of which, will never come true.
Also losing out to the cold weather was the multi-time postponed Fall Brawl at Hagerstown Speedway (Md.) which will be made up at a date to be announced.
Let’s hope that April showers will bring May flowers — but that they come during the week and not on the weekend.
Shawn Wood covers motorsports for The Daily Item. Comments can be sent to email@example.com.