By Mike Leone
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hermitage, PA…Mercer Raceway Park celebrated the 2005 season in grand style Saturday night, January 14, as the beautiful Normandy Banquet Center in Hermitage, Pa. played host for the third time to the annual awards banquet and dinner.
The top ten drivers in each of the five divisions received their point fund monies and plaques. The following 2005 track champions also received an engraved Mercer Raceway Park championship watch compliments of Kidd’s Jewelry in Greenville, Pa. and an embroidered jacket: Rod George-Luxaire Heating & Cooling Sprint Cars, Gary Smoker-Campbell-Peterson Trail & (358) Modifieds, Brian Booher-Tire Express Stock Cars, Curt Bish, Jr.-Maurer’s Trading Post Strictly Stocks, and Paul Kapuchuck-360 Sprint Cars.
For the seventh consecutive year, Mercer Raceway Park continued its tradition of honoring special achievements at its banquet. Five of those types of awards were once again given out Saturday night.
The “Legacy” Award honors and remembers the late Bill Emig. This year’s recipient was track champion Rod George for his overall performance. The Sprint Car racer led the region with 17 wins (18 as a car owner) and also won the title at Tri-City Speedway and the Cavalcade Championship.
The “Horizon” Award was put in place to recognize drivers whose careers shine as brightly as the horizon. This year, for the second time, the award was handed out to two drivers. Modified, high school racer Brad Rapp of Shippenville, Pa. was impressive with his first career win and finished in the top 10 in points despite missing five races. He finished out of the top 10 just twice, once when he tangled battling for the lead, and the second time in the T3 All Star Series event, where he finished 11th in a 51-car field.
The second “Horizon” Award was given to Bryan Shaffer of New Castle, Pa.. The high school racer won four Strictly Stock features and finished fourth in points despite missing two races.
Three “Outstanding Achievement” Awards were handed out. Former Stock Car, E-Mod, & Sportsman Modified racer, Mike Anderson moved into the highly-competitive 358 Modified class and certainly turned heads. The Harmony, Pa. driver raced the Jerry O’rock, Sr. #2x to third in points with 14 top 10s in 16 starts. His only two finishes out of the top 10 were an 11th and in the T3 All Star Series event.
The second “Outstanding Achievement” Award was doled out to Doug Stanley. Like Anderson, the North Benton, Ohio racer was a surprise finishing second in points in his inaugural 410 Sprint Car season. On July 23, Stanley not only won his first Mercer race and first 410 win, but it came in his first ever wingless start beating George in the $2,000 to-win feature.
In 1999, champion Bob Felmlee was given the “Legacy” Award for winning his 100th career Sprint Car win less than 24 hours before what was thought to be a career ending injuries suffered at Tri-City Speedway. Fast forward six years and the Franklin, Pa. driver returned behind the wheel winning two special event wins at Mercer, four features at Tri-City Speedway including the final three, and also set fast time against the World of Outlaws at Sharon Speedway. With those accomplishments, Felmlee was awarded the third and final “Outstanding Achievement” Award.
Living legends are those that will forever be held in high respect by those that enjoyed their excellence. This year’s “Living Legend” Award was bestowed to Jack “Skinny” Hall. The Mercer racer was unable to attend as he always spends the winter in Florida; however, his son Rick and longtime engine builder and crew chief Tom Paxton accepted the award on his behalf. “Skinny” had a long, successful career before turning the reigns of his #B2 over to Rick in 2000, which he went on to win the Sportsman Modified Championship. “Skinny” still spends every Saturday night at Mercer helping his son Rick and working for his son’s Big Daddy’s Speed Center,
The “Majestic” Award honors those that have made grand, noble, and dignified gestures on behalf of Mercer Raceway Park and in general. The husband-wife team of Ken and Charlene Turner, who spend countless hours behind the scenes doing the little things that keep “The Park” in tip-top shape.
Veteran Rod George had a near perfect season on his way to his first ever Mercer Championship in the Luxaire Heating & Cooling Sprint Cars driving his own #4 sponsored by Delp Family Powder Coating and Ankle & Foot Care. The Kittanning, Pa. racer who has won with the All Stars and on the tough central Pa. circuit had 4 wins and even more impressively never finished worse than fourth all season long despite being handicapped almost every feature to the 11th or 12th starting spot.
Doug Stanley’s first full season at Mercer was rewarded with a runner-up in points and his first career 410 win and first at Mercer along with 8 top 5s. Despite not winning any features, Tom Quarterson was third in points in his first full season driving for Dick Schuller and first at Mercer since his 2001 championship year. Rob Eyler ended an up and down season with his only victory- his seventh of his career and earned him fourth in points over Bob Felmlee, who won two $1,500 to-win features. Sixth through eighth in points with wins in parentheses were Arnie Kent (2), Kevin Andrusky (1), and Scott Bonnell. Mike Shearer (1) and Jason Dolick tied for ninth. Other winners were Mark Murphy, Brian Ellenberger, and Ed Lynch, Jr.
Most people wouldn’t believe that the 2005 Modified Champion’s first crown was his first ever track championship. Gary Smoker owns 33 career wins at the track holding the distinction of the all-time win record in the Sportsman modifieds and is tied with Lonny Riggs for the most 358 wins. Over the past 11 seasons, he’s finished in the top 9 in points 10 times including a pair of runner-ups, a pair of thirds, and a pair of fourth place finishes. Three feature wins, 5 heat race wins, an impressive 11 top 5s, and just 2 finishes out of the top 10 helped seal the Campbell-Peterson Trail & Turf title for the hometown Mercer driver in the D&D Racing-owned, MBMR, Inc./Mito Insulation/Robert Salvoskis, CPA/Do-All Electronics-sponsored #516.
Two did not starts in the second and third weeks took Bill Adams out of the championship hunt, but he came back to put up outstanding numbers tying Smoker with 11 top 5 and 14 top 10s. Like Adams, Mike Anderson was also consistent with 14 top 10s as neither driver was able to win a feature. Rick Hall and Steve Toth were fourth and fifth with a win a piece. Sixth through tenth in points with wins in parentheses were Ron Eperthener, Jr. (1), Matt Reeher, Steve Barr, Garrett Krummert, and Brad Rapp (1). Other winners were Lonny Riggs (4), Mike Stine (2), Frank Guidace, Travis Shingledecker, and Billy VanPelt.
Brian Booher led the speedway with 7 wins doubling his career total in route to his first championship of any kind. The Sandy Lake, Pa. driver also tied for a track-high 8 heat race wins and had 10 top 5s and 14 top 10s to claim the Tire Express Stock Car Championship in the Terry Hoover-owned, Ed & Jerry’s Auto Service/Harry & Tim Roofing-sponsored #00H.
Terry Wheeler had a career year with a runner-up in points and one win. He ended the regular season with five straight runner-up finishes and ended the year with a fifth in the “Little Guy Nationals”. Andy Thompson, who led the points early on, dropped to third with two victories. Gary Norman was the only driver in the top seven in points that failed to win a feature, but was very consistent with a perfect 13-for-13 in his 13 starts. Defending champion Andy Buckley was fifth with a victory. Completing the top 10 in points with wins in parentheses were Shaun Hooks (2), John Reiser (1), Tony Bruno, and Ryan Moyer.
In the second season of the “Redneck Racers Shotgun Series” for the Strictly Stocks, the Bishs kept it all the family. Last year, it was Curt, Sr. topping his son Curt, Jr. by 48 points, but this year Curt, Jr. got the best of his father edging him by 22 points. The Oil City, Pa. native had 3 wins, 5 heat race wins, 14 top 5s, and 15 top 10s in 16 starts in route to the title in his #00 sponsored by Dennis Baker Construction, Leonardo’s Restaurant, and Comfortmaker. Maurer’s Trading Post awarded Curt, Jr. a shotgun valued at approximately $1,000.
Curt, Sr. added 4 more wins propelling him to second in points. Carl Ealy captured his first career win and added two more along the way to third in points. Bryan Shaffer was fourth with 4 wins. Paul Reiser had a consistent year with 11 top 10s for fifth in points. Randy Ealy, Jim Boring, Lauren Simmons, William Morrison III, and Patrick Heckman were sixth through tenth in points. Ronnie Boyd and Mitch Wattelet were also feature winners.
The Pegasus” 360 Sprint Car Series in its fourth season had a new champion for the fourth time. Paul Kapuchuck of New Castle, Pa. won his first championship of any kind as he was the highest finishing 360 seven times and also had a top 10 with the 410s in his self-owned #10. Completing the top 10 were Jeremy Cook, Patriot winner Jamie Martin, J.R. Stewart, Brian Swartzlander, Mary Anne Williams, Rick Wilson, Chris Shuttleworth, Rich Swarthout, Jr., and Arnie Kent.
Brad Rapp and Travis Shingledecker each received a special plaque commemorating their first career wins. Big Daddy Speed Center, Bassett Wheels, and Precise Racing Products awarded certificates for various drivers in each division. Kudos went out to the 16 drivers with perfect attendance as they received a certificate to recognize their dedication to the speedway in 2005.
Track announcer Mike Dutko emceed the event and thanked the sponsors, employees, press, drivers, owners, and all of the fans for making 2005 another success. Special thanks also went out to the Mercer East End, Jefferson, and Pine Township Fire Departments along with Mesaros Towing. The 2006 season was previewed with many upcoming special events.
Watch for press releases on the upcoming 2006 season. Opening night is scheduled for Saturday, March 25 featuring the ULMS Late Models, E-Mods, and open Stock Cars. One week later on April 1 the Sprint Cars, Modifieds, Stock Cars, and Strictly Stocks will begin their point chases. The complete schedule will be released by the end of February.
Mercer Raceway Park is 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 late March through early October. The office in New Bedford, Pa. is open year-round Monday through Friday after 1:30 p.m. For more information call the office at 724-964-9300 or the track on race day at 724-662-1310. Check out our website at www.mercerracewaypark.com for the latest.
Final 2005 Mercer Raceway Park Point Standings
Luxaire Heating & Cooling Sprint Cars: 1. ROD GEORGE (Kittanning, Pa.) 495 2. Doug Stanley (North Benton, Oh.) 436 3. Tom Quarterson (West Middlesex, Pa.) 408 4. Rob Eyler (Franklin, Pa.) 379 5. Bob Felmlee (Franklin, Pa.) 342 6. Arnie Kent (New Castle, Pa.) 330 7. Kevin Andrusky (Hermitage, Pa.) 329 8. Scott Bonnell (Fairview, Pa.) 320 9. Jason Dolick (Coshocton, Oh.) & Mike Shearer (Freeport, Pa.) 295.
Campbell-Peterson Trail & Turf (358) Modifieds: 1. GARY SMOKER (Mercer, Pa.) 526 2. Bill Adams (Hermitage, Pa.) 461 3. Mike Anderson (Harmony, Pa.) 458 4. Rick Hall (Stoneboro, Pa.) 455 5. Steve Toth (New Castle, Pa.) 414 6. Ron Eperthener, Jr. (Grove City, Pa.) 389 7. Matt Reeher (Volant, Pa.) 381 8. Steve Barr (Grove City, Pa.) 366 9. Garrett Krummert (New Castle, Pa.) 360 10. Brad Rapp (Shippenville, Pa.) 302.
Tire Express Stock Cars: 1. BRIAN BOOHER (Sandy Lake, Pa.) 529 2. Terry Wheeler (Stoneboro, Pa.) 496 3. Andy Thompson (Mercer, Pa.) 489 4. Gary Norman (New Castle, Pa.) 458 5. Andy Buckley (Stoneboro, Pa.) 434 6. Shaun Hooks (New Castle, Pa.) 389 7. John Reiser (Sandy Lake, Pa.) 372 8. Tony Bruno (Girard, Oh.) 367 9. Chris Brown (Edinburg, Pa.) 348 10. Ryan Moyer (Harmony, Pa.) 298.
Maurer’s Trading Post Strictly Stocks: 1. CURT BISH, JR. (Oakdale, Pa.) 630 2. Curt Bish, Sr. 608 3. Carl Ealy (Volant, Pa.) 540 4. Bryan Shaffer (New Castle, Pa.) 514 5. Paul Reiser (Stoneboro, Pa.) 479 6. Randy Ealy (Jackson Center, Pa.) 476 7. Jim Boring (Evans City, Pa.) 428 8. Lauren Simmons (Cortland, Oh.) 366 9. William Morrison III (New Castle, Pa.) 325 10. Patrick Heckman (Mercer, Pa.) 292.
360 Sprint Cars: 1. PAUL KAPUCHUCK (New Castle, Pa.) 319 2. Jeremy Cook (Grove City, Pa.) 229 3. Jamie Martin (Wooster, Oh.) 132 4. J.R. Stewart (Bellefontaine, Oh.) 67 5. Brian Swartzlander (Leechburg, Pa.) 43 6. Mary Anne Williams (Chester, Va.) 42 7. Rick Wilson (Joyceville, ONT, Can.) 40 8. Chris Shuttleworth (Wellsville, Ny.) 39 9. Rich Swarthout, Jr. (Geneva, Ny.) 38 10. Arnie Kent (New Castle, Pa.) 37.
Tommy Gale Trailers Micro Sprints: 1. J.J. METHENEY (Forestville, Pa.) 132 2. Danny Holtgraver (Pittsburgh, Pa.) 127 3. Todd Hoover (Mt. Pleasant Mills, Pa.) 125 4. Mike Himes (Summerville, Pa.) 123 5. Chris Best (Mercer, Pa.) 103 6. George Hobaugh (Chicora, Pa.) 102 7. Steve Dunmire (Ford City, Pa.) 100 8. Mike Mecklem (Fredonia, Pa.) 98 9. Jimmy Arnold (Burgettstown, Pa.) & Jay Groves (Sugar Grove, Pa.) 95.
“Gladiator Series” Demolition Derby: 1. ED BORDT (Sewickley, Pa.) 8
Special Award Winners:
“Living Legend”: Jack “Skinny” Hall
“Legacy”: Rod George
“Horizon”: Brad Rapp & Bryan Shaffer
“Outstanding Achievement”: Bob Felmlee, Doug Stanley, & Mike Anderson
“Majestic”: Ken & Charlene Turner