The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


August 26, 2011

Tilley was fan, driver favorite

I personally did not know Ray Tilley and I only met him once, but from doing the interviews on Saturday, the day after he passed away, you came away with a sense of just how big a person he was and what he meant to a lot of people who raced at Selinsgrove Speedway.

The common theme that ran throughout the conversations was Ray Tilley was a gentleman and a heck of a driver. Everyone had high praise for the man who was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa, in 2005. It should be noted his class included Wilbur ‘Bill’ Holland, the first-ever sprint car winner at Selinsgrove Speedway, who went on to win the 1949 Indianapolis 500.

Tilley’s mark of 69 sprint car wins at the local track may never be topped. The closest active driver is Fred Rahmer with 54. With just three regular 410 shows a year at the present time, it would be hard for that record to fall.

I would hope that Selinsgrove Speedway will find a way to honor Tilley. The track already honors the late Jan Opperman (PA Speedweek finale) and the late Jim Nace (410 National Open), so it would only be fitting to honor Tilley.

Ryan Kissinger of Bloomsburg won his firstever 358 sprint car race at Selinsgrove and his sprint car is powered by a Ford engine, an engine synonymous with Tilley.

Fans in the pits were talking about the 25-lap 358 sprint car feature not long after it was over saying it was probably the best one of the year. At the finish, the top four drivers were separated by .440 seconds and on the final lap, any one of the four drivers — Kissinger, Eric Tomecek, Logan Schuchart and points leader Blane Heimbach — could have won the event.

‘Mr. Awesome’ himself, Jeff Rine, Danville, won his eighth late model feature of the season and his 72nd overall. In doing so, he leads Jim Yoder of Selinsgrove by 15 markers heading into this Saturday’s Late Model Open that pays $5,000 to win. The race will not be sanctioned.

After the first race of the season on April 8, Rine led Yoder by 30 points with his first win of the year.

Yoder took the points lead on April 23 and that began a period of time where the two would go back-and-forth atop the standings. Yoder took command of the points on June 5 and led going into Saturday’s race.

In case you haven’t noticed, Rine has dropped 25 pounds. He said he accomplished that through walking and jogging. He and his wife Shelley recently welcomed a new addition to their family, Willy, a York Shire Terrier. I thought for sure they would have called him ‘Awesome.’ Makes sense, right? One win was all Kyle Bachman needed to move back into a tie atop the all-time win list for the pro stocks with A.J. Hoffman. He won his 34th pro stock feature on Saturday.

Hoffman, Jason Smith and Tim Krape have combined to win 14 of the 16 features this year. Nate Kerstetter is the other pro stock driver to get to victory lane.

Rain has forced Big Diamond Speedway into an unprecedented situation.

They moved the finale for points to Friday, Sept. 2, and moved the Coal Cracker 50 for the sportsman modifieds to tonight. The Coal Cracker 100 is still set for Sept. 4.

Nicole Bower did something last Friday night at Williams Grove Speedway that no female had ever done — she set fast time in time trials. Her lap of 16.544 seconds was the fastest lap in time trials all season at the Grove. Bower is 24th in points at the Grove and 10th in points at Port Royal Speedway. She also set fast time at Selinsgrove Speedway earlier in the year. It’s a shame that Bower’s feat went unreported in the track’s press release.

Lucas Wolfe of Mechanicsburg continues to inch closer to his first career World of Outlaws win. Since July 29, Wolfe has finished third three times, runner-up once and has five top-fives in his last eight races.

Next Tuesday’s Jersey Rush at the New Egypt Speedway (N.J) for the 410 sprint cars and big block modifieds is attracting some big names. Among the drivers slated to race are Shane Stewart, Daryn Pittman, Justin Henderson, Greg Hodnett, Fred Rahmer, Lance Dewease, Todd Shaffer and Doug Esh just to name few. Billy Pauch Sr. is going to do double duty on Tuesday. It’s the first time since 2007 that the track has hosted a 410 event.

— Shawn Wood covers motorsports for The Daily Item 

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