Sprint Car Tripleheader and More at Mercer Raceway Park

A.J. Flick and Rod George battle

Photo from MRP Photographer Toni Carbone

It will be Sprint Cars, Sprint Cars, and more Sprint Cars this Saturday at Mercer Raceway Park, courtesy of Bonnell’s Collision Center. There will be three winged Sprint divisions in action, along with the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds and the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites. You will not want to miss this open wheel extravaganza!

The Patriot Sprint Tour will bring their popular and exciting brand of 360 Sprints to the Park. Sammy Reakes, of Palermo, NY used a pair of wins to jump into the lead of the American Conference, and he will be looking to pad the advantage over Kyle Drum, and Scott Kreutter. Over 20 visitors are expected for this event, including several names familiar to the Mercer fans. Jared Zimbardi has been an infrequent competitor with the 4 Your Car Connection and World of Wheels 410 Sprints that regularly headline the action. Dr. Steve Collins usually makes a few cameo appearances as well. Jeff Cook was a regular at the Park a few years back. And veterans George Suprick and Dave Wickham always look forward to racing on the tricky oval.

Do not be surprised if a couple of local favorites join the Patriot fun. Jack Sodeman, Jr. recently entered a Patriots event in C.J. Jones’ 360 machine. Dennis Wagner has also tested the waters with the touring drivers, as did Smokin’ Joe McEwen.

Although there has been a number of Sprint Car races at the Park this month, there is still a log jam at the top of the standings of the 4 Your Car Connection and World of Wheels championship. Just a handful of points separate four drivers. Brandon Matus is at the head of the class, even though last week’s triumph against the Mo Vaughn Transport B.O.S.S. non-wing racers did not enhance his total. Defending champion Eric Williams comes next, with Jack Sodeman, Jr., and Adam Kekich within easy striking distance. Add in other talented pilots like Rod George, Scott Priester, Dan Kuriger, A.J. Flick, Jimmy Morris, Brent Matus, and many more, and you can understand why the fans rave about the racing at the Park.

The third class of winged sprints will be the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors. George Hobaugh has a slim three point margin over last week’s winner, Cody Bova. Evan Kornbau keeps improving week after week, and Darin Gallagher is racing like a veteran, instead of a rookie in this class. Mark Rossey, Alex Paden, C.J. Jones, Darren Pifer, Mike Marano, II, and Devin Litwiler, and others make this one of the most competitive divisions at the track.

Ageless Tommy Kristyak sits atop the points in the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds, and he has been in the hunt every time out. But J.R. McGinley has put in two consecutive impressive performances, grabbing a win and a second place finish. His spectacular wheel-banging style makes him a fan favorite, for sure. Jimmy Holden, Lonny Riggs, Franke Guidace, Kyle Fink, Sid Unversagt, Jr., and Richard Whitney are just a few of the racers that will be on hand.

The Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites return after a week away from the speedway. Mark Marcucci should be behind the wheel of his potent little machine. His father filled in for him once, and that performance has helped keep Mark in a tie for the points lead with Aaron Meister. But, just five points behind sit Jacob Bova and Keith Smith. Shane Webb, Glenn Teeters, Mike Flockerzi, Bill Stivason, Jason Darocha, and Josh Christopher round out the top ten.

Gates will open at 4 p.m., practice will start at 6:30, and racing begins at 7:00. Come out early to pick your favorite seats.

Special event ticket pricing will apply. Adults will be admitted for just $15, seniors (60+) for $13, and students (9-15) for $7. Children will be free, as always. The Family Pass will be $35 for this program, and that will apply to two adults and up to four minors of any age. The Pit Passes will be $30.

If you cannot make it to the track for this Sprint Car trifecta, plan to attend the Crate Late Model program on June 6. Also on the card that night will be the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors, the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modofieds, the Precise Racing Products STock Cars, the Rock Concrete Suppply Modified Lites, and the Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles Mini Stocks.

Remember that you can get alerts regarding the cancellation of any racing event at Mercer Raceway Park sent directly to your smartphone or other electronic device. To register, please go to the track’s website, www.mercerracewaypark.com, click on the icon for RainedOut.com, and follow the easy steps.

About Mercer Raceway Park: Mercer Raceway Park is a 3/8-mile dirt track located minutes from both Interstate 79 and 80 just off Route 19 on Fairground Road in Mercer, Pa. Dirt track racing and quality family entertainment are presented weekly from late March through late September. For more information, check out www.mercerracewaypark.com, www.twitter.com/mercerraceway, or www.facebook.com/mercerracewaypark.

Remembering Gus Linder

He is most well-known for his time in the Mickey Banas number 69 sprint car

Sad to learn of the passing of all-time great Gus Linder.

The following recap of Gus’ great career comes from Don Gamble.

Remember When: Gus Linder – The Man in Black by Don Gamble 1990

In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, the Linder name was one of the biggest in racing in the entire country. This Linder, of course” was the late Dick Linder, 1955 Pittsburgh Racing Association Champion. However, in the early 1950’s, another Linder named Gus started to show up in the box scores. The younger of the two brothers, Gus, drove many racecars in his long career.

Some of the other men Gus drove for included Fred and Marion Palone, George Lauderbaugh, Jack Schuster, Larry Jackson, Joe Borandi, Joe Vilsack, Don Dickenson (Don the Carburetor Man), and John Boltey and Mickey Banas.

The first feature winning car Gus drove was the number 57 white Ford coupe owned by Fred Palone, brother of Marion Palone, who owned the famous V-2, which Dick made famous. As the Pittsburgh Racing Association got started in 1954, Gus was picked to drive Larry Jackson’s #15 Buick powered Ford coupe, and was very successful with this car. After a few seasons with the Jackson mount, Gus moved into the seat of the Joe Vilsack Buick powered Ford coupe, and he was on his way to making a big name for himself. Linder won the 1959 Tri-State Championship at Heidelberg driving for Vilsack. I first met Gus when I was a teenager and a go-fer at Vilsack’s Garage in Hazelwood PA. The team would let me ride in the race car while towing it to the speedway.

As the PRA changed over to late model cars in 1961, Gus Linder felt it was time to make a change. At this time, he joined forces with the late Mickey Banas and his #69 sprint car.

As the sprint cars were popular in Western PA., they were even much more popular in Central PA one of the hot beds of sprint car racing, Mickey and Gus started to travel more and more to the Central PA area to do their racing. In all reality, Gus was the biggest winner of any Western PA driver to race in Central Pennsylvania. The black Ford powered sprint car started winning at the famed Williams Grove, Lincoln, Port Royal, and Susquehanna Speedways. What made Gus so famous was the 289 cubic inch Ford engine running against an all Chevy powered field of cars.

Mickey Banas could make a Ford engine a feature winner when it was unheard of in sprint car racing. Then tragically, Mickey died at a very young age of cancer, and this great combination of Mickey, Gus and the Ford were never to be again. As Gus took over the car, he changed it to Chevy power. Gus owned the car and the number and color remained the same until his retirement. He took on Kimes Chevrolet as a sponsor, and he had mediocre success. However, the spirit just wasn’t there as it was with Mickey.

Things did not always go smoothly between Gus and Mickey, as Gus would be fired one week and re-hired the next week. It just wouldn’t work out for Gus or Mickey if Gus drove for anyone else or Mickey put another driver in the car. The team was together for fourteen years. As rocky as the relationship was, they always ended up back together.

Near the end of Gus’ career, his son decided to give driving a try, but he only ran for a few years. Gus just slowly ran less and less until he just quit driving altogether. Tracks where Gus competed included Ace High, Arden Downs, Blanket Hill, Butler, Canfield, Claridge, Clearfield, Clinton, Daytona, Greater Pittsburgh, Green Valley, Heidelberg, Jennerstown, Langhorne, Lernerville, Lincoln, Mercer, Mon-Duke, Morgantown, Motordrome, Port Royal, Selinsgrove, Sharon, South Park, Tri-City, Uniontown, and Williams Grove.

The man with the black helmet, black driver’s suit, and black racecar is no longer on the racing scene, but anyone who saw Gus Linder drive would never forget him. For over thirty years, the “Man in Black” gave his all to the sport of auto racing, and it is only fair that we don’t let the fans forget him. Gus was inducted into the PCTC Hall of Fame in 1991 along with Jim Bickerstaff and Whitey Lauderbaugh. Gus has some of his memorabilia on display at the Heinz History Center Sports Museum in Pittsburgh.

Mercer Raceway Park Welcomes New Sponsors and Announces Schedule Change

4 your can connection and world of wheelsMercer, PA (March 7, 2015): Mercer Raceway Park is pleased to announce the sponsors for the 410 Sprint Car division in 2015, and the names will be familiar to the Western Pennsylvania motorsports community. 4 Your Car Connection and World of Wheels will present the speedway’s headline class. “We are proud to have these firms join us at Mercer Raceway Park,” said speedway owner and promoter Bill Altman. “They have been part of the racing family for a long time, and we are looking forward to having them partner with us for years to come.”

4 Your Car Connection is engaged in sales and rentals of used vehicles, and it boasts a full service center and towing operation as well. 4 Your Car Connection is located at 7082 U.S. Highway 322, in Cranberry, PA. The store is open Monday through Saturday, and evening hours are available during the week. But, if you are planning to shop on Saturday, plan to arrive early, as the store does close in the afternoon, so everybody can head to the racetrack to enjoy the fun. Check the website, www.4yourcarconnection.com for additional information.

World of Wheels sells ATVs, motorcycles, dirt bikes, cruisers, generators, and more from its shop located at 2572 State Route 257, in Seneca, PA. It is an authorized sales and service center for Honda, Kawasaki, Polaris, Suzuki, Yamaha, Honda Power Equipment, and Toro. Check out www.worldofwheels6.net for more information. Like 4 Your Car Connection, World of Wheels is open every Monday through Saturday. Evening hours are available during the week, but the shop does close early on Saturdays as well. You know that owner Bob Felmlee, a former Sprint Car champion at the Park, will want to be trackside to see his charges perform!

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January 28, 2015 by EldoraPR

Purchase Secures Future of Nation’s Oldest Winged Sprint Car Tour

Tony Stewart will be the new owner of the All Star Circuit of Champions in 2015.

UNOH All Star Circuit of Champions logoINDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 28, 2015) – Motorsports entrepreneur Tony Stewart has agreed to terms with Guy Webb, owner of the All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car Series, to become the sole owner of the original winged sprint car tour.

The All-Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car Series is one of the oldest traveling sprint car organizations and is a staple of grassroots, open-wheel racing. The transaction between Webb and Stewart will proceed immediately.
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Mercer Raceway Champions Feted, Schedule Released

Mercer, PA (January 17, 2015): Mercer Raceway Park hosted the gala banquet and awards ceremony at the Normandy Banquet Center in Hermitage, PA, thus closing the books on the 2014 racing season. Points champions in the six Saturday Night Live! racing divisions were honored, along with some special recognitions being conferred. the tentative schedule was also released.

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