By Shawn Brouse
For The Daily Item
One of the most innovative and interesting races to hit the area in quite a while is set for Selinsgrove Speedway this Saturday, as the 28th annual Jim Nace Memorial National Open for 410 sprints is spun off.
Meant to honor the five-time track champion who succumbed to cancer last November, the Nace Open will consist of a pair of segments, each 22 laps in distance and paying $6,000 to win, with complete payoffs. The top six finishers in the first segment will be inverted for the second race, and if the winner of segment one can move forward to win segment two, he will get a $14,000 bonus on top of the $12,000 he’s already won. The winner of the second segment will be crowned Nace Open champion.
This format and concept, meant to honor Nace, was announced back in February and the anticipation has been building ever since. The total laps, 44, and the total base purse, $44,000, is intended to memorialize the car that Nace started his career in. The $6,000 to win in each segment is to commemorate his final car number as a driver and owner, and the amount of money a sweep of the two segments would make for one driver — including the 14 grand bonus — $26,000 is a homage to the most identifiable mount of Nace’s career, the Camel Express No. 26.
Aside from all the usual area drivers who race for a living like Fred Rahmer, Lance Dewease, Tyler Walker, Stevie Smith and Greg Hodnett being in attendance, look for Brent Marks, Danny Dietrich and Brian Leppo to race. Also in the field should be Curt Michael and Trevor Lewis. Doug Esh says he hopes to attend. Brian Montieth says he’s thinking about it. Kerry Madsen is a possibility to invade.
A close friend to Nace and accomplished veteran himself, Millerstown’s Todd Shaffer will drive a replica Camel Express No. 26 for owners Gary and Patty Beam in the event, which he has won four times in the past.
“I can’t tell you a race I would want to win more than the one coming up at Selinsgrove in Jim’s memory,” says Shaffer. “To me, this race is promoting. It’s all a great idea and we’re all excited about it.”
“When I was starting out in my career, the Camel Express, Weikert’s Livestock, and Hamilton cars were the ones everyone wanted to drive. To drive this car for this race is quite an honor.”
The newly unveiled No. 26 machine, and one of Nace’s final No.6 machines, will be on display prior to the races.
Nace’s friend and a former racer, Bob Landis of McAlisterville, will deliver the invocation. A limited quantity of commemorative-edition Nace Memorial National Open program booklets will be on sale.
TUSCARORA WRAP: Brian Montieth allowed 21st starter Fred Rahmer to pass him during the mid-stages before passing him back to win the Port Royal Speedway Tuscarora 50 for 410 sprints Saturday night.
Three of the fastest cars up front were taken out with 11 laps down when Lance Dewease, Stevie Smith and Greg Hodnett crashed with a spun car in the second corner. Smith was the preliminary winner on Friday night. Montieth took home over $12,000 for the 50 victory, which closed the Port season.
The weekend was full of excessive dust. Car counts were 29 Friday and 32 Saturday. Daryn Pittman won the Labor Day Classic last Monday, while Scott Haus won the late models. Haus won again Friday night.
OTHER RESULTS: Logan Schuchart won the Lincoln Speedway 358 sprint track title Saturday night, while Chris Shuttlesworth won the feature. There were 40 cars. Phil Walter of McClure finally overcame his bad luck and even a pass by Pat Cannon to win the 358s at Selinsgrove on Saturday. There was 24 cars.
Jim Yoder got by his son Dylan to win in late models. Jason Schmidt won pro stocks and Rick Bender took roadrunners. Selinsgrove’s Blane Heimbach won the 358 sprint main at Williams Grove on Friday night after tight racing with Chad Trout and Cannon that saw contact. Heimbach is 75 points back of Cannon with one race left in the Selinsgrove points chase. John Smith won sprints at Clinton County on Friday.
NOTES: Stevie Smith was clocked at the end of the Port Royal backstretch Saturday night going 132 mp. ... The winner’s share of the Port 50/50 on Saturday was over $3,30. ... It was a championship type of weekend for late model racer Jeff Rine. The Danville driver clinched the Bedford Speedway track title Friday and the Selinsgrove crown Saturday.