Late Models join race card this Saturday at Mahoning Valley Speedway
(Lehighton 4-12-21) Mahoning Valley Speedway rolls into week three of the 2021 season this coming Saturday afternoon at 2:00 pm with a six division program of stock car racing which includes Modifieds, the first appearance of the season for the Late Models, Street Stocks, Pro 4s, Hobby Stocks and Futures/Rookie Hobby Stocks.
The Late Model division remains a staple among the great classes at the paved ¼-mile oval, second only to the Modifieds in the number of total features held, dating back to the days of dirt. When Pete Lovell won the first Late Model feature on pavement on July 24, 1970 there has since been 710 features run and 127 different winners on the blacktop. And, with an unprecedented 56 class wins Mike Sweeney, a two-time champion, remains the all-time wins leader. Geno Steigerwalt won the 2021 championship, his first ever.
The day’s action will consist of heats, last chance qualifiers and features. Pit gates will open at 9:00 a.m. Pit entrance fees are $30 for members and $40 for non-members. Grandstands will open at noon. Adult admission is $14, $2 discount for active military, students and seniors 65+. Must have valid ID. Children 10 & under are free. A paid-practice is slated from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 pm. Regular warm-ups will begin at noon Sign-ins are from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
On Saturday afternoon, April 24 at 2:00 pm the Race of Champions Modified Series competitors are gearing up to head to Mahoning Valley Speedway for the Series opener. Also in action will be Street Stocks, Hobby Stocks and Futures/Rookie Hobby Stocks.
Matt Hirschman returns for a second week and repeats as Mahoning Valley Speedway winner on April 10
(April 10, 2021) Matt Hirschman took advantage of a rare weekend off from his usual traveling the region to more high profile events, instead returning to his home base of Mahoning Valley Speedway and in doing so was able to claim a second straight win in the process. Hirschman, who was fresh off of a thrilling Opening Day photo finish victory over Austin Beers in the Bill Teel Tribute, once again bested his fellow Northampton opponent only this time he would be the one in control rather than the week prior when he had to chase down leader. Hirschman drew the pole for the 35-lap contest and would stay out-front the entire distance for his seventh win in 11 starts this season. “We really only had the option of racing closer to home. It’s been a busy early season and the plan was to not race at all this weekend and prep for the upcoming races but we made a last minute decision and I’m glad we did,” said Hirschman, who picked up his 24th career win at Mahoning Valley and sixth in as many starts. “I think the longer the race went on we needed to improve a little on the handling. On a shorter run like today we were okay but I think if the race continued I feel we were going to struggle a little.” At the outset Hirschman jumped to the early lead over Nick Baer and Earl Paules. Paules then took second spot on lap six and was able to stay very close to the leader. Bobby Jones, who had raced up to third on lap seven, was also running strong and remaining nearby the front pair. The race was slowed for the first time on lap 13 when Kyle Strohl spun in Turn 3. Under that caution Paules was pulled to the side by officials to check for leaking and it was confirmed positive which then sent him pit-side. On the restart Jones took aim at Hirschman but the No. 60 again had the upper hand. By lap 21 Beers propelled into second spot and it was yet again a familiar scene playing out between the two Mud Lane racers – running one-two while battling for the win. Unlike the last week though when Beers led until the finish line and was overtaken by Hirschman, there would be no denying the Harry’s U-Pull-It No. 60 as he drove to a car length margin of victory. “We’re not use to racing here in daytime conditions and last week during the opener I don’t think was a true reading on the track and out next show for us planned is the (April 24) RoC here in two weeks and it’s again a day show,” said Hirschman. “I prefer the night shows and I think we have it dialed in but that’s why we’re here today to see if we can get a little bit better because I feel we need to for the 75-lap RoC race.” Jones took third with Brian DeFebo and Baer rounding out the top five.
The Sportsman Modifieds ran their first race of the season with a mix of seasoned veterans and fresh talent and to put that into a better prospective 53-year old journeyman Don Wagner, who was making his first start with the class, held off 10-year old Paulie Hartwig III and 17-year old Kassidy Altemose in gaining his 40th overall career win. Another analogy to consider is Wagner’s first win came in 1989, 32 years ago, which is more than the combined age of Hartwig and Altemose. Wagner had the pole for the outset of the 25-lap affair and took charge immediately. Behind him was a bevy a close action with Jared Ahner, Hartwig and Peyton Arthofer all making Wagner stay sharp. Then with three laps to go the pressure was turned up on Wagner which began when Ahner and Arthofer tangled and brought out the caution. On the restart Hartwig was second with Altemose third. Over the remaining laps Wagner kept his car on the bottom in defense while the younger pair went into a torrid side-by-side battle. As the checkers waved for veteran it took time to determine second spot which went to Hartwig by a mere .001-second margin. “The young guys are our future and I’m so happy we got some young talent and that’s also why we built this car to support this division and I think it’s going to continue to get better and better and grow into an awesome division,” said Wagner. “Those young kids kept me busy for sure and it was really nice to park it in Victory Lane today. Myself and the team still try hard to put a lot of effort into all this and we’ll run this car and the Modified throughout the season.”
TJ Gursky took the lead in the Street Stock feature at the drop of the race commencing green and from there on never looked back. The strong running Gursky was picture perfect with each passing lap and while he was commanding the field Brandon Christman was holding onto second, however, on lap 13 Gursky’s teammate Mark Martini made the pass to run behind the leader and one lap latter came Opening Day winner Randy Ahner Jr., who is the third team member with the front two who all race for owners Rip and Vicki Ripkey. When Gursky crossed the finish line it would mark his first victory since 2015 and the first time a three-car team took the top three spots in a feature at Mahoning Valley.
The Hobby Stock feature was a barnburner affair from start to finish and even though Al Arthofer won for the second week in a row it took him nearly all of the 25 laps to do so. The race was filled with two and at times three-wide action beginning with Taylor Schmidt and Jacob Boehm for the better part of the race. Then over the final eight laps Arthofer, who had just nipped Travis Solomon for third, made it a three car battle for the lead – three-wide as a matter of fact. Arthofer ran the outside lane and with three laps to go powered into the lead which he would hold to the end. Schmidt held on for second over Boehm.
In the Futures/Rookie Hobby Stocks Greyson Ahner, a Rookie, led flag to flag for his first ever stock car win, Closing in at a rapid pace was Brody George who notched the win in the Futures, his second straight.
Modified Feature Finish (35-laps): 1. Matt Hirschman, 2. Austin Beers, 3. Bobby Jones, 4. Brian DeFebo, 5. Nick Baer, 6. Cody Kohler, 7. Terry Markovic, 8. Jesse Strohl, 9. Kyle Strohl, 10. Earl Paules
Sportsman Modified Feature Finish (25-laps) 1. Don Wagner, 2. Paul Hartwig III, 3. Kassidy Altemose, 4. Randy Ahner Jr., 5. Carl Altemose, 6. Avery Arthofer, 7. Kevin Kromer, 8. Mia Guy, 9. Troy Bollinger, 10. Payton Arthofer, 11. Jarred Ahner, 12. Danielle Paules
Street Stock Feature Finish (30-laps): 1. TJ Gursky, 2. Mark Martini, 3. Randy Ahner Jr., 4. Earl Paules, 5. Brandon Christman, 6. Jill Snyder, 7. Thomas Flanagan, 8. Mark Deysher, 9. Jon Moser, 10. Tucker Muffley, 11. Jacob Christman, 12. Jeremy Scheckler, 13. Todd Ahner, 14. Randy Green, 15. Cody Geist, 16. Jaime Smith, 17. Toby Behler, 18. Logan Boyer, 19. John Bennett
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Al Arthofer, 2. Taylor Schmidt, 3. Jacob Boehm, 4. Travis Solomon, 5. Devin Schmidt, 6. Nick Schaeffer, 7. Corey Edelman, 8. Cody Boehm, 9. Trisha Connolly, 10. Justin Merkel, 11. James Tout, 12. Lyndsay Buss, 13. Dave Imler Jr., 14. Jaden Brown, 15. Ed Herman, 16. Jake Oswald, 17. Ralph Borger Jr., 18. Mallory Kutz, 19. Kevin Behler, 20. Nicholas Kerstetter DNQ: Herman Neff, Kip George, Slade Darragh
Sportsman Modifieds set for 2021 debut this Saturday, April 10 at Mahoning Valley Speedway (Lehighton 4-7-21) Mahoning Valley Speedway is coming off a great season opener – race number one of the John Blewett Inc., Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fames Series Bill Teel Tribute – which featured some outstanding racing including the long-to-be-talked-about Modified photo finish between Matt Hirschman and Austin Beers. With that thrilling day in the rear view mirror now begins the full slate of regular season point races beginning this Saturday afternoon, April 10 with a five division card of stock car action at the ¼-mile paved bullring. Race time is 2:00 p.m. On the program will be Modifieds, Sportsman Modifieds, Street Stocks, Hobby Stocks and Futures/Rookie Hobby Stocks. There is much anticipation, too, with the Sportsman Modifieds racing for the first time in 2021. The fledgling class, now entering its fourth year of existence, had a respectable showing of cars last season, however, no thanks to the on goings of the Coronavirus that cut the calendar of events substantially, the division was only able to get on track four times. And, even though Earl Paules won three of the four features held, there was indeed a fair amount of close racing nonetheless. Over the offseason meetings with owners and drivers where held and some rules where adjusted to conform with similar Sportsman classes throughout the region which in turn has led to track tech officials fielding numerous calls from teams planning to compete. Matter of fact during the recent Test and Tune teams from as far away as Buffalo, NY came down to practice as well as a host of others both locally and regionally. Pit gates will open at 9:00 a.m. Pit entrance fees are $30 for members and $40 for non-members. Grandstands will open at noon. Adult admission is $14, $2 discount for active military, students and seniors 65+. Must have valid ID. Children 10 & under are free. A paid-practice is slated from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 pm. Regular warm-ups will begin at noon Sign-ins are from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Hirschman over Beers in photo finish at Mahoning Valley Speedway season opener April 3
(April 3, 2021) You couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the season at Mahoning Valley Speedway with an incredible Modified finish that was decided by a whisker by two drivers who came from deep in the pack as 13th starting Matt Hirschman nipped Austin Beers, who drove to the lead from 16th on the grid, for the win in the opening round of the John Blewett Inc., Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fame Series Bill Teel Tribute, equally exiting action in the support classes, a sun splashed afternoon and a five division program that was in the books in just a bit over four hours.
And, for Hirschman, he may have chocked another victory at the paved quarter mile oval – his fifth in a row and 23rd overall – but it was by far one of the most hard-earned yet. After a revenge draw, Hirschman used every bit of talent he had to execute his drive to victory as he was placed to the back after getting caught up in a lap seven dust up, then methodically picked his way back with savvy driving and the help of a sprinkling of cautions. Within the final half dozen laps he was able to move past Zane Zeiner and Jack Ely leaving only Beers to contend with which immediately began a fierce side-by-side duel.Beers would actually catch a break with three laps to go when a caution flew and the ensuing restart would go single file, however, Hirschman went right back at it and as the white flag waved it was a hard charging battle to the end. The pair where dead even as they rolled out of turn four and when they crossed the finish line it was determined that Hirschman was barely ahead to claim the verdict. “That was a hell of finish and I’ve been a part of some amazing last lap finishes this year and we keep coming out on top and it’s an awesome way to win a race but it also stinks to lose a race that way too,” expressed Hirschman. “The fans were certainly treated to a great finish whether they were cheering for us or Austin (Beers), they got a great race and at the end of the day that’s what you come to see,” he continued. “We actually got handicapped twice between the redraw and then getting spun near the start but you never give up and that’s always been my motto, never give up until the checkered flag falls.” The thrilling finish between Hirschman and Beers was only part of the story. At the outset Nevin George overtook pole sitter Ely for the early lead but then gave way to Zeiner after a lap-12 restart. Bobby Jones was then glued to Zeiner’s rear bumper with George just as close. Zeiner and Jones continued on one-two until Ely found a burst to get by Jones with 39 laps in and the next time around did the same to Zeiner. Following Ely was his teammate Beers who wasted little time in taking the DeLange Racing No. 45 to the front as the field recorded 43 laps. It was evident to both Beers and Ely that Hirschman was on their heels and they worked there best to keep him at bay. But after Hirschman passed Ely the stage was set to the thrilling run to the checkers. “The laps where ticking off and once it got past 50 I was thinking ‘Man 14 laps and we’re in sixth spot and we have to do something quick.’ Then things started to open up and we made some good passes,” explained Hirschman. “People may not like that we’re winning and our success but there isn’t one guy at this race track that can be mad about me today and the way I raced them and it was a good entertaining finish and you’re going to leave here talking about this finish for a long time.” For the second time in as many races Beers finished second to Hirschman at Mahoning. They closed out 2020 in the same order and a number of times prior to this race as well. “It was very tough to swallow this one but I’m sure it was a great show for the fans, what a race. It was an honor to race in the memory of Bill Teel,” said Beers. “Our right rear (tire) went around lap 45 so that didn’t help but honestly to finish second to Matt (Hirschman), it’s hard to swallow because it’s happened now several times but I think we’re going to get him soon.” Taking third was Tyler Haydt, who’s Future Homes Custom Builders stepped with additional first place money. Ely hung in for fourth while Brian DeFebo rounded out the top five,
In the Street Stock main it was Randy Ahner Jr., scoring a solid win over Mark Deysher for his 23rd career class victory. Ahner took the lead with eight laps to go after passing impressive rookie Jacob Christman. Christman, who was in his very first stock car race, picked the pole and when the green flag dropped exhibited no indication of this being his solo outing as he was holding back one of the premier veterans in Todd Ahner and doing so with self-confidence and just plan good driving. On a lap 20 restart Christman was still leading while R. Ahner overhauled T. Ahner for second. The upstart was still maintaining his lead nonetheless, running a good line that enabled him to hold off the charge of R. Ahner. However, a power steering hose let go and made it problematic for him to uphold his spot, as R. Ahner would step to the outside of Christman and complete the race winning pass as 22 laps went into the books. Deysher, TJ Gursky, Johnny Bennett, Shayne Geist and Johnny Bennett run in a close pack but not close enough to challenge R. Ahner who scored his 39th overall career win. Unfortunately for Christman, his noteworthy debut ended three laps short as the culprit steering hose would be his demise.
Reigning and two-time Hobby Stock champion Al Arthofer came out firing on all cylinders as he cruised to the Opening Day victory. Arthofer, who started seventh, zipped by early leader Ryan Berger on lap 14 of 25. From there on the throttled down and continued to distance himself from the pack, ultimately taking a nearly two second margin of victory over Berger. While Arthofer was pulling away Trisha Connolly and Justin Merkel ran under a blanket with Berger and would cross the finish line in the order. Cody Boehm held off his brother Jacob Boehm to compete the top five.
In the Pro 4 main Josh Kuronya started out the season the same way he ended it, with a victory. Kuronya closed out 2020 with his career first win leading every lap in the process. In a carbon copy he again led the distance and did so while fending off perennial division kingpin Jake Kibler.
Also on the card was the Futures/Rookie Hobby Stock that ran a combined feature. Out front when the checkers waved was Brody George who led from lap two. Runner-up and credited with the Rookie victory was Deegan Underwood who notably drove a great first ever race.
Modified Feature Finish (64-laps): 1. Matt Hirschman, 2. Austin Beers, 3. Tyler Haydt, 4. Jack Ely, 5. Brian DeFebo, 6. Zane Zeiner, 7. Nick Bear, 8. Earl Paules, 9. Don Wagner, 10. Austin Kochenash, 11. Kyle Strohl, 12. Blake Barney, 13. Cody Kohler, 14. Sean Verwys, 15. Lou Strohl, 16. Rod Snyder Jr., 17. Brian Romig, 18. John Markovic, 19. Nevin George, 20. Terry Markovic, 21. Bobby Jones, 22. Jacob Kerstetter DNQ: Jesse Strohl
Street Stock Feature Finish (30-laps): 1. Randy Ahner Jr., 2. Mark Deysher, 3. TJ Gursky, 4. Shayne Geist, 5. John Bennett, 6. Earl Paules, 7. Jon Moser, 8. Bob Kibler, 9. Cody Geist, 10. Jill Snyder, 11. Jeremy, 12. Tobie Behler, 13. Randy Green, 14. Tucker Muffley, 15. Logan Boyer, 16. Brandon Christman, 17. Mark Martini, 18. Jamie Smith, 19. Todd Ahner, 20. Jacob Christman, 21. Thomas Flanagan
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Al Arthofer, 2. Ryan Berger, 3. Trisha Connolly, 4. Justin Merkel, 5. Cody Boehm, 6. Jacob Boehm, 7. Taylor Schmidt, 8. Devin Schmidt, 9. Travis Solomon, 10. Corey Edelman, 11. Lyndsay Buss, 12. Nick Schaffer, 13. Jaden Brown, 14. Slade Darragh, 15. Mallory Kutz, 16. Ed Herman, 17. Savannah Romig, 18. James Tout, 19. Nicholas Kerstetter, 20. Corey Gulich DNQ: Rich Mutarelli, Dave Imler, Jake Oswald, Tony Hilliard, Kerry Boehm, Ralph Borger Jr., Kip George
Pro 4 Feature Finish (20-laps): 1. Josh Kuronya, 2. Jake Kibler, 3. Randy Schaffer, 4. Kadie Purcell, 5. Terry Peters, 6. Robert Derfler, 7. Tyler Stangle, 8. Jeremy Guerra
Mahoning Valley Speedway season opener John Blewett, Inc., Hall of Fame Series Bill Teel Tribute this coming Saturday at 2:00 pm
(3-28-21) With the third and final day of Mahoning Valley Speedway’s Test and Tune/Opening Day Fast Time held Saturday afternoon, April 27, all focus now turns to the much anticipated start of the 2021 season at the popular paved ¼-mile Lehighton oval with race number one of the John Blewett Inc., Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fames Series (MVSHoFS) Bill Teel Tribute. Race time is 2:00 p.m.
Thanks in part to Future Homes Custom Builders of Lehighton the feature winner of the 64-lap Modified portion of the MVSHoFS will collect a cool $3500 plus through the big-heartedness of the Teel/George families an additional $1160 has been affixed into the purse with an emphasis on the second half of the finishing order. Tenth place will pay $500 while it will be $300 to take the green.
“We’re really excited to kick off the 2021 season and the Hall of Fames Series by paying tribute to the late, great champion Bill Teel and with the amazing support from Tyler Haydt and Future Homes, the family and friends of Bill (Teel) and also having John Blewett Inc., onboard for the whole Series, it’s all making for what should be a fantastic day of racing,” said Mahoning Valley promoter Keith Hoffman. “After our final Test and Tune/Opening Day Fast Time session I can assure you that all indications are in favor of a great turnout of cars for all classes. Last year’s Hall of Fames Series was nothing short of thrilling and we’re stoked get back to racing with the Bill Teel Tribute.”
The Street Socks and Hobby Stocks will also be racing as part of the MVSHoFS plus the card will include the Pro 4s and Future/Rookie Hobby Stocks. Cutting Edge Designs of Lehighton will be paying a $50 bonus to the winner of the Hobby Stock feature and will also reward $50 to the driver of the same race who is running 14th on the 14th lap. Ahner’s Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning of Palmerton has kicked in $100 to the Futures and Rookie Hobby Stock victors plus a $50 bonus if a Rookie driver is the overall winner. And a $50 Hard Luck payout will be presented as well.
This past Saturday saw four-time track champion Rod Snyder Jr., set the fast time for the Modifieds at 10.024-seconds while two-time Street Stock champ Randy Ahner Jr., was quickest with that class with an 11.796-second lap and Mallory Kutz locked down the top time with the Hobby Stocks with a time 12.048-seconds – her time was set on March 13 and held over all three practice days. That trio has been awarded a guaranteed pick in the feature redraw of their respective divisions for the season lid-lifter and are also receiving $50 each courtesy of Hoffman Discount Parts, Aqua-Duck Water Transport and “The Voice” Dino Oberto.
Pit gates on Opening Day will open at 9:00 a.m. Pit entrance fees are $35 for members and $45 for non-members. Grandstands will open at noon. Adult admission is $20, $2 discount for active military, students and seniors 65+. Must have valid ID. Children 10 & under are free.
There will be a visit by the Easter Bunny who will be handing out treats to all the youngsters on hand. A paid-practice is slated from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 pm. Regular warm-ups will begin at noon Sign-ins are from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. All MVSHoFS features will pick for heat starting spots and do a redraw for the features. The Modifieds will hold a revenge draw for their starting grid line-up.
Bobby Kibler Sr., and Cody Boehm are quickest in second round of Mahoning Valley Speedway Fast Time runs March 20
(3-20-21) The second of three preseason Test and Tune/Opening Day Fast Time runs were held at Mahoning Valley Speedway with competitors on hand to take advantage of a picture perfect Saturday afternoon and all with the focus on preparation for the start of the 2021 season which begins April 3. The purpose of the shake-down runs was twofold. For the Modifieds, Street Stocks and Hobby Stocks it was a chance for one driver from each of those classes to lock themselves into a guaranteed pill pick for the Opening Day race number one of the Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fames Series (MVSHoFS) Bill Teel Tribute while they and the other divisions on hand got a feel for the hard work that went into their cars over the off-season. Clicking off the fastest times after two scheduled rounds where Bobby Kibler Sr., in the Street Stocks at 11.825-seconds and Cody Boehm in the Hobby Stocks with a top lap of 12.205-seconds. Kibler’s time was also the quickest after two weekends held thus far as he bested Brandon Christman, who had been at the top of the charts from the previous week’s timed runs. Boehm, although quickest on the day, was not swift enough to unseat Mallory Kutz who laid down the division’s top time at 12.048 the week prior. There were several Modifieds in house but those individuals deferred on time until the final Test and Tune/Opening Day Fast Time day on March 27 as they were still tweaking their mounts. With next Saturday’s final practice run coming in advance of the season opener it is expected to be a very busy afternoon. Pits will open at 10:00 am with on track activities beginning at noon. The 2021 lid-lifter is slated for 2:00 pm on Saturday, April 3. On the card will be Modifieds, Street Stocks and Hobby Stocks – which will all be part of the MVSHoFS – plus Pro 4s and Futures/Rookie Hobby Stocks. Also taking place at the season’s first event will be the disbursement of point fund monies from 2020.
Sean Verwys looking to build on solid rookie Modified year…will run Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fame Series and Race of Champions Tour in 2021
(Mahoning Speedway - Feb 2021) The shortened 2020 race season at Mahoning Valley Speedway was not much different than other tracks that had to deal with the delayed start all due to the coronavirus pandemic. By not getting on track until mid-June drivers had to fight twice as hard working for a win knowing that half a season was already lost. That same aspect applied for rookie drivers too who looked-for the needed seat time in order to hone their skillset and in the Modified ranks at the paved ¼-mile oval there was a young contender who despite the limited racing turned quite a few heads by the time the season completed.
Sean Verwys of East Stroudsburg, a 17-year old who was a true-blue Modified rookie in 2020, earned satisfactory grades thanks to some clean driving and consistent finishes. For a Modified apprentice Verwys scored a respectable sixth in points that included a pair of top five’s and five top ten’s in only nine starts. “As a team we looked at 2020 as a huge stepping point. My uncles raced Modifieds for quite a few years and could never put up the numbers like we did last year and not because of talent but rather what they had to work with,” said Verwys, a second generation driver. “The biggest thing was to get as much seat time as possible and gain that experience trying to do better and keep improving, that’s our entire goal.”Like most others he began in karting and did the ladder climb which included Bandolero and Legends before getting seated in the Modified. “Legends cars really taught me so much on how to drive. The Modified has given me a lot more consistency in tire management,” said Verwys.
Although there is plenty of support from his family and others, the team mainly consists of just him and his dad Bill, who is also a driver. They work out a one-car garage putting in countless hours in order to race. “I can’t thank him enough for everything he does for me. He’s my engineer, crew chief, my ride to the track, my tire changer, he’s everything,” said Verwys.
For Verwys last year was a realization come to fruition running a Modified at Mahoning Valley Speedway. It meant competing against a huge host of star power drivers whom he admired for a long time. “The drivers I literally watched since I was a kid sitting in the stands – Bobby Jones, Brian DeFebo, Earl Paules, Matt Hirschman, Eric and Austin Beers, Don Wagner and the list goes on with the amount of talent there is at Mahoning,” he explained.
“It’s said how it’s one of the toughest tracks in the country for how hard it is to pass and to just the pure stout competition for this area. It was really awesome for me to not only race against those guys but also gain their respect,” he continued. “I know at the beginning of the year they may have been cautious to drive alongside me but by the end of the season I felt confident enough that anyone can go side-by-side with us and we all held our own.” Amazingly it didn’t take long to show his ability as he raced to his first top-5 in just his second start. He drove the rest of the year always smooth and clean before capping off the final point race with a second top five. “Getting those two top-5s during the year was awesome because not only to you see the drivers who are in front of you and are ‘name’ drivers but you also have those behind you that are just as good with all the years of experience and here I was in the middle of all them in just my first year of Modifieds,” disclosed Verwys. With the 2021 season just around the corner Verwys will be looking to build on his rookie momentum in more ways than one. After recently applying for and receiving early graduate status at East Stroudsburg High School, he has begun studies in High Performance and Regular Automotive at the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) in Lima, OH. “I want to learn as much as possible to better our own racing program but also build connections within the sport whether it be working in a race shop or even better yet getting an opportunity to drive,” he noted. With studies taking precedence, his race plans will be fine-tuned to work around that. UNOH is basically a year-round school. He will be back at Mahoning Valley, limited albeit, and he is looking towards action on the Race of Champions (RoC) Modified Series.
At Mahoning he will run the entire Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fame Series. He wants to contend for RoC Rookie of the Year also. “Right now we’re leaning on doing the full RoC Tour and go for Rookie of the Year there and that means hitting Mahoning for the first race and all of the (Mahoning) Hall of Fame Series races. We’ve been looking at taking in a race or two at Evergreen (Raceway). We’ll have some time off of school in August but the biggest thing is where’s the budget at and how will the car be.” With his eye-catching 2020 Verwys feels confident that a first of many wins is close at hand. “The top 10’s will lead to top 5’s and eventually a win and that first win is going to mean close to everything,” he admits. “I’ve been watching Modifieds since I was old enough to remember and these are the cars that are steppingstones to get into the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour or maybe getting my name even further out there.
“That win – when it comes – is going to hopefully project my name out there and have people see that even though we don’t have the big bucks we’re still a solid team that is able to contend. I feel we’re a good driver and a good team able to race against the big names and talented drivers.” Verwys will be back on track when Mahoning Valley Speedway kicks off the 2021 season on Saturday, April 3 at 2:00 pm which is the opening event of the Hall of Fame Series featuring the Bill Teel Tribute. He’ll then be right back at Mahoning on April 24 when the RoC begins their season with a 75-lapper slated for 2:00 pm. “We wanted to show that we were there to contend.”
John Blewett, Inc., Is named title sponsor of the 2021 Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fame Series
(March 9, 2021). When Jimmy Showtime Blewett made his first, and so far only appearance, at Lehighton, Pennsylvania's Mahoning Valley Speedway in last season’s opening round of the Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fames Series (MVSHoFS), not so surprisingly the driver best known as “Showtime” came away with the popular win in the John ‘Peepers’ Yerger Tribute.
Driving Scott Brannick’s North American Sprinkler Construction No. 51, Blewett was in the right place at the right time in gaining the victory. After front runners Eric Beers and Matt Hirschman tangled late in the race the lead was then handed over to third running Blewett who was able to hold off hard charging Joshua Scherer and Blake Barney.
In many different ways Blewett came away very impressed with his time spent at the ¼-mile bullring including the MVSHoFS itself and has thus stepped in to become the title sponsor of the Series through his family run John Blewett, Inc. Auto & Scrap Metal Recycling of Howell, NJ.
“I feel that there’s a lot of history there and after finally getting on track last year and seeing what they did that first night – that was the first race in the post-pandemic and we had a chance to all go racing again after not really having the opportunity to do anything before that and when Mahoning opened up with that initial Hall of Fame race it was one heck of show,” explained Blewett.
“For me not ever being there before and seeing the support that the local fans as well as all those who traveled from outside the area was phenomenal and it was great to see so many familiar faces and many more new ones,” he continued.
“I’d never been where guys like Tony Hirschman and Eric Beers grew up racing and a lot of other drivers too who came out of that region and are remarkable so to go there and be able to race and take in such a positive atmosphere and with the history, it meant something to us.”
Blewett also has a solid relationship with Mahoning promoter Keith Hoffman and his late brother Doug Hoffman that also led to him offering his support to the MVSHoFS. “Doug and Keith (Hoffman) being a good friends of mine I figured it would be something that we would like to be a part,” reflected Blewett.
“Keith called me and asked about us helping out the Hall of Fames Series, which I think is an awesome series, and if we would be willing to do something and I felt this was fitting for us.”
John Blewett Inc., Auto & Scrap Metal Recycling is a family owned and operated company that was established in 1953. They buy and pay cash for old metal. They are also fully equipped to handle all demolition and excavation jobs. For more info on all their services visit: https://www.johnblewett.com
The MVSHoFS was launched last year and became an instant success. It consisted of a five race series run amongst the Modifieds, Street Stocks and Hobby Stocks. The Modified features were all extra distance/high dollar shows and centered on a select group of Hall of Fame drivers and their signature car numbers.
“It’s cool that we can pay tribute to drivers who are not racing anymore or may have passed away but there’s great memories with all of them,” said Hoffman.
“The whole Hall of Fame Series is something we could all be proud of and I’m really excited for what the 2021 edition will bring. We’re going to be building on what we did and with the honorees we have lined up for this year it looks like another great Hall of Fame Series is in store and we can’t be happier to welcome John Blewett, Inc., Auto & Scrap Metal Recycling as the official Series sponsor. Jimmy (Blewett) is a great guy and a great racer and we’re thankful for his support.”
Before Blewett making his Mahoning debut he conferred with track kingpin Eric Beers, a multi-time champion and the all-time leader in Modified wins.
“It’s a racy track and one of those tracks that was always on my bucket list and Eric Beers was a lot of help to me going there. I had some ideas of what I wanted but I wasn’t 100% sure so I called him and he told me do this, this and this and we’ll be just fine. He guided me to where I needed to be competitive,” acknowledged Blewett.
“It was good and perhaps one of the best experiences I’ve had in racing. People may say it’s just Mahoning but no, to be able to go out there and win that race and have help from someone you looked up to your whole life was something I’ll always remember.”
The first of the five events begins with the season opening Bill Teel Tribute on April 3. Next will be the Ward Crozier Sr., Tribute on May 15 followed by the Roger Heffelfinger Sr., Tribute slated for June 19. On July 31 the Lorin Arthofer Tribute is in line and the conclusion will be the Hall of Fame Classic Weekend on October 1-2 and highlighted by the Paul Bauscher Tribute.
Mahoning Valley Speedway will begin on track action with three consecutive weekends of Test and Tune days tentatively set for March 13, 20 & 27 from noon to 4:00 pm. Opening Day will begin at 2:00 pm on Saturday, April 3 with a rained date if needed for April 17.
As for Blewett he did verify that he will not be making the season opener but has not ruled out a return to Mahoning at any time this season.
“I’m hoping that this year we can get back out here and have some fun and see everybody. My car owner Scott Brannick is also hoping to get back there. It really will come down to how my schedule is. It could come down to a weekend when we say hey let’s go to Mahoning instead of here or there. We want to show our support,” said Blewett.
Mahoning Valley Speedway 2021 schedule unveiled (LEHIGHTON, PA. 1-31-21) Mahoning Valley Speedway has put the finishing touches on the 2021 race schedule and is excited to release what is geared toward another worthwhile season for fans and race teams of the paved ¼-mile oval located just west of Lehighton. One of the central highpoints is the Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fame Series (MVSHoFS). The MVSHoFS is the brainchild of Mahoning promoter Keith Hoffman and after a very successful debut last year that gained rave reviews, the 2021 group of honorees for the special five race series will include Bill Teel, Ward Crozier Sr., Roger Heffelfinger Sr., Lorin Arthofer Sr., and Paul Bauscher. “I think we have really put together a well-rounded schedule that has something for everyone,” said Hoffman, now starting his second season at the helm. “Obviously after the huge success of the Hall of Fame Series we were thrilled in naming the honorees for 2021 and as you can see it’s quite a class of distinctive individuals who played a major role in the history of Mahoning Valley.” The season will actually get underway with race number one of the MVSHoFS on Saturday, April 3 with the Bill Teel Tribute. The subsequent Series’ events are May 15, June 19, July 31 and October 2 honoring Crozier, Heffelfinger, Arthofer and Bauscher respectively. The Race of Champions (RoC) Tour will be back too, opening up their 2021 season at Mahoning Valley on April 24 with a 75-lap feature. Street Stock racers, for years a strong supportive class, will see the return of the Mike Krempasky Tribute. The 50-lap event, taking place on July 10, will award the winner $1000. “It was nice to work out an early season date with the RoC which we feel will be favorable to everyone. I was also pleased to be able to work out a date for the Mike Krempasky Tribute for the Street Stocks,” explained Hoffman. “Mike (Krempasky) was a good friend and it was great working out the details of his race with his son Kyle.” The Sportsman Modified rules have been updated with the intent to bring in more teams from throughout the region. The class, now beginning its fourth year, will be in action quite regularly. “We had some great discussions about the Sportsman Modifieds in recent weeks and judging by the input we feel we’re instore for a great season with this class. It was important for us to make the rules more in tune from throughout the region in order to better grow this class,” Hoffman noted. The calls have been coming in and all very positive about racing with us this year.” Of course the Late Models, Pro 4s, Hobby Stocks and Rookie Hobby Stocks likewise will be running nearly weekly. New to the line-up is the Futures class that will run jointly with the Rookie Hobby Stocks. Three Quarter Midgets and Micro Stocks have also been booked on select dates and on the afternoon of September Junk Car Races will be held. New in 2021 will be The Fall Brawl which will close out the year on October 30 with extra distance races for the Modifieds, Sportsman Modifieds, Street Stocks, Hobby Stocks and Pro 4s. And, as this will be Halloween there will be a Halloween Trailer Treat for the kids. The races will begin at 2:00 pm with time later in the evening for the youngsters to go Trick or Treating. Track management this year has initiated two drop dates for racers. What that entails is a driver can drop any two dates before the designated cutoff date of July 31. The reason for the drop-offs is so teams can better plan for personal time while still being able to maintain themselves in the point hunt. Start times have also been adjusted as the season continues on. Early start times during the month of April are in place and aimed to better prepare for the chilly nights and for the hotter months of July and August the start time is pushed back in relief of the heat. “A lot of teams spoke up and we listened,” Hoffman added. “The drop dates will be good for those who may have a bad night or maybe want to plan a family weekend. By doing this they can still be able to battle for a championship.” A number of Sunday afternoon events are also being planned such as Drifting and small car classes. Pre-season Test & Tune and Opening Night Fast Time days will take place on March 13, 20 and 27. The purpose behind the Fast Time is for the Modifieds, Street Stocks and Hobby Stocks to award the overall fastest car of the three days with a ‘guaranteed redraw spot’ for the season opener and not have to run a heat race.
Futures class to run together with Rookie Hobby Stocks
(LEHIGHTON, PA. 1-22-21) When Mahoning Valley Speedway promoter Keith Hoffman introduced the Rookie Hobby Stock class last season, at the time little did he or anyone else know the impression it would have with such an influx of young racers looking to drive stock cars. From the very beginning the division saw an amazing array of up-and-comers, good car counts that stayed steady all year and even a class sponsor in E. Schneider and Sons Inc. Scrap Metal and Recyclers of Allentown. “I wanted these kids, young and old, to get the feel of racing in a stock car and also what it felt like to win a race at Mahoning Valley and be greeted by a large cheering crowd,’ explained Hoffman. “We accomplished that and in the process paved the way for the next generation of stars to race here.” That was indeed the case as eight different winners graced Victory Lane in 11 events held. Hallie Muffley, who never raced a car prior to that, came out as the top winner with three victories while Paul French, Jr., was hailed as the very first class champion. 2021 will see a host of those talents take the step up, which is exactly what the focus of the class is designed for. However, there will be some who may not be quite ready to make that advancement and feel another year of getting better adjusted to the surroundings will be in their best interest. Parents and guardians agree too, which is what led track management to institute a “Futures” class. Although those racers not moving up are no longer a rookie with the first year under their belts, the Futures class will combine them with Rookies. Each feature will see two winners, one Rookie and one Futures. “This was the best course of action that we felt was the right thing to do,” offered Hoffman. “We saw that some of the Rookies, even though they all did a great job, where not yet ready to make the step into the regular Hobby Stocks or higher and this will now provide a more safe and basic environment for them to do so.” And, they will have adequate track time to improve and nurture with 21 race dates. At the present time Hoffman noted that a three-year and out rule will be instituted for the Futures/Rookies. The Futures/Rookie Hobby Stockers along with all others will get the first opportunity to get on track starting March 13, 20 and 27 with Test and Tune days in advance of the Saturday, April 3 Opening Day which is also race number one of the Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fame Series featuring the Bill Teel Tribute.
Mahoning Valley Speedway reveals 2021 Hall of Fame Series honorees
(1-17-21) Mahoning Valley Speedway’s 2021 race schedule is nearly complete with just a few minor details that remain before officially releasing the full slate of events.
The speedway is, however, proud to announce the Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fame Series (MVSHoFS) will be back. After an unqualified successful debut last year in which five selected honorees where paid homage with special races, it is with great privilege that the next selection of esteemed individuals are named. The late Bill Teel, a three-time Modified champion, the late Ward Crozier Sr., past promoter and racer, 1972 Modified champion Roger Heffelfinger Sr., Lorin Arthofer Sr., a many time winner in Modifieds and patriarch of Arthofer family of racers and Paul Bauscher, Late Model champ of 1972 and many time winner in Modified and Late Model action. “We’re very excited to be able to follow-up on what was such an amazing run of events last year when we introduced the Hall of Fames Series,” said Mahoning promoter Keith Hoffman. “This year will see another amazing group of people who are very deserving and I can assure you they and their families where overwhelmed and honored when we contacted them. It’s amazing how in just one year this has blossomed into such great event that both our fans and drivers are so enthusiastic about.” Teel won Modified titles in 1988, 1990 & 2000 and also was the 2011 car owner champion with driver Tyler Haydt. Although he passed away in 2012, his popularity with fans is still as strong as ever. Teel scored career 16 wins and until last season held the record for consecutive Modified victories at four in a row. Matt Hirschman tied that mark in 2020. Crozier is best renowned for the reopening of Mahoning Valley Speedway in 1987 following the closing of Dorney Park Speedway. He and wife Dot’s vision has become a legacy as the track will kick off its 34th consecutive season since they brought life back to the paved ¼-mile oval that prior to then had sat dormant for 10 years. Crozier is also noted for his innovative virtuosity as a promoter, evident by the packed house he was able to maintain during his tenure as the helm. Heffelfinger, who just celebrated his 75th birthday, has been a staple at Mahoning as well as Dorney Park where he began his popular career as hard-charging wheelman. At Dorney he ranks among the top-10 of all-time winners. When Mahoning became an asphalt track in 1970 Heffelfinger quickly became one of the top runners. His son, Roger Jr., and grandson, Austin Kochenash, carried on the family success with championships and wins at not only Mahoning but numerous other tracks as well. Arthofer Sr., is another product of Dorney Park, where he quickly established himself as a winner. When the Crozier era began at Mahoning Arthofer won early and often. More so his family including sons, daughter-in-law, granddaughters and nephew have made the Arthofer name one of the most triumphant ever at Mahoning. With a combined 123 feature race wins to date they are the winningest family at the Lehighton speedway. Bauscher, best known as “The Flying Farmer” was as good as they got, be in a Late Model or Modified. From his earliest days of racing at Dorney Park and then on to Mahoning Valley, Bauscher was a threat each time he rolled his signature No. 91 on the track. He owns three Late Model titles at Dorney and added a Modified crown at Mahoning in 1972. He is also credited with the first Modified victory under Crozier’s reign on May 9, 1987. Bauscher continued to compete into the early 1990s and still attends weekly action at Grandview Speedway. Matt Hirschman, who won four of the five MVSHoFS races last year, was proclaimed the champion of the inaugural series. The 2021 season and first race of the MVSHoFS is on Saturday, April 3 with the Bill Teel Tribute. Next comes the Ward Crozier Tribute planned listed for Saturday, May 15. Race number three will be held on Saturday, June 19 featuring the Roger Heffelfinger Sr., Tribute. Next up is the Lorin Arthofer Sr., Tribute on Saturday, July 31. The finale will be held as part of the Hall of Fame Classic weekend on October 1-2, concluding on that Saturday with the Paul Bauscher Tribute.
Mahoning Valley Speedway Hobby Stock rules slightly updated following constructive meeting
Racers of the Mahoning Valley Speedway Hobby Stock division recently gathered for a meeting to discuss rules for the upcoming season at the paved ¼-mile oval.
In what was a very well-attended and positive get-together, track management and drivers collaborated to bring a better perception to the rules. With all said and done there will be a few minor updates to the current set of procedures. “We had a great meeting with the guys and I was very happy with the turnout,” said track promoter Keith Hoffman. “This class is so essential to Mahoning Valley Speedway with such a supportive group of teams and that’s why we felt it was important to have them voice their opinions with the rules. There was some great input and after taking in all the info it was determined that just a few minor changes where needed to continue on what this class is all about – an affordable entry level division.” Drivers likewise expressed their thanks to Hoffman from the past year with having him as track promoter and the many positives he had initiated.
The 2021 season will mark the ninth season for the division. It started in 2013 at first with just three cars but since has developed into a thriving class. This past season alone there where 63 different drivers that scored points and at the season ending event Corey Edelman collected a record $1500 first place prize. 2020 also saw the Rookie Hobby Stock division formed which is an offshoot intended to nurture new drivers into the realm of stock car racing.
Mahoning Valley Speedway’s 2021 season will get underway with Test and Tune and Opening Day Fast Time days on March 13-27 which will lead into Opening Day on Saturday, April 3 at 2:00 pm and is round one of the five race Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fames Series, kicking off with the Bill Teel Tribute.
Keith Hoffman to return as Mahoning Valley Speedway promoter in 2021
(11-29-20) Keith Hoffman has officially announced that he will indeed be returning as Mahoning Valley Speedway promoter for the 2021 season. Hoffman, who took on the role as promoter at the end of 2019, had conveyed at the close of this season that he was not sure of his immediate plans, however, after deliberating his possibilities over the past few weeks he has confirmed that he is excited to stay onboard with speedway owners Jack and Rebecca Carlino. “I’m very eager to get back to business at Mahoning Valley Speedway. I feel we did some great things in our first year especially with the Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fames Series (MVSHoFS) as well as a number of other key promotions such as initiating the Rookie Hobby Stock class and just trying to improve the whole show in general each week,” said Hoffman. “I’m very grateful for the many compliments and I feel we can really build on the success that we have started.” Keynote to Hoffman’s Mahoning presence was the introduction of the MVSHoFS which became an unqualified success. The series’ paid tribute to past track icons and the response was overwhelming from both the pits and grandstands. “The Hall of Fame Series was amazing and it was bigger than we could have imagined,” noted Hoffman. “I’m happy to say that we will be bringing back the Series for 2021 and we’ve already picked out our five Hall of Fame selections that we will pay tribute to. The 2020 Series will be a hard act to follow but we think what we’ll be presenting very soon that everyone will be pleasantly pleased with our next edition.” Another positive item brought to the table by Hoffman was the Rookie Hobby Stock class which saw double digit car counts each week. The primary intent behind the division was to help ease would-be drivers into the world of stock car racing, many to them moving up from quarter midgets and go-karts. “The Rookie Hobby Stocks were everything we expected it to be. Watching those young talents progress after each race build their confidence level tremendously and many of them held their own nicely as they slowly worked their way into the regular Hobby Stocks,” stated Hoffman. Hoffman went on to say that moving forward there will be some tweaks in place for the class but with all good intent. Keeping downtime to a minimum while maintaining an efficiently run show quickly became Hoffman’s hallmark as well. “We closed out 2020 with a nice burst of momentum and I feel that we can only continue to get better from what we started. What I saw last year was an extremely enthusiastic fan base and a very dedicated group of racers and that really helped make my decision to come back all the easier,” said Hoffman. Hoffman went on to explain that he expects the 2021 schedule will be ready by mid-January and he looks to release that during a special gathering not long afterwards that will pay tribute to the top finishers from the recent season while laying out his plans for the upcoming year.