On July 5, Chris Gerhart suffered a blown engine in his 600cc Micro-Sprint. With his limited budget already on life support, he feared his season might be finished.
Gerhart began working the phones and social media sites, searching for a good used powerplant or perhaps a rental deal with someone who had a spare motor. He found what he was looking for when Dan Souder, a fellow 600cc competitor from the Quakertown area, agreed to let Gerhart use his team’s backup engine.
Late last Saturday night, Souder may have been regretting his decision.
Gerhart’s Stringy’s Speed Shop, Triple X Chassis No. 51 was a rocketship all night long, and the former point champ survived a nerve-wracking final few laps in the midst of heavy lapped traffic to win his first main event of the year at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
Joining Gerhart as a Lanco feature winner on Saturday were Kenny Miller III (won the first 270cc main of his short career), Darren Miller (125cc), Curtis R. Miller (Sportsman), and Dave Ravel (250cc Four-Stroke). A pretty good night to be named Miller, as three of the five winners share that moniker.
A long, drenching storm soaked the facility around 4 p.m. on Saturday, creating a lengthy delay as the track prep crew went back to work and re-groomed the racing surface. A tremendous effort by the crew, along with some track-packing help from the race teams, produced a fast oval that didn’t tear up once the program began – about two hours later than normal. But it was a near miracle that racing was able to take place at all after the late afternoon downpour.
The 25-lap main event for the 600cc Micros was the nightcap to the five division show, and Gerhart wasted no time in blasting from third to first on the opening circuit.
Taylor Troxel dashed from sixth on the starting grid to run second by the time lap four was scored. Troxel tried to keep pace with the leader, but Gerhart was simply too strong and pulled away.
The first yellow flew with 12 complete, and it was rather timely for Gerhart, who’d caught the back of the field and was facing the difficult task of maneuvering through a thick pack of cars that were racing for position. But the caution flag cleared the track in front him, and he accelerated away from Troxel on the restart.
With Gerhart sailing along out front and Troxel all alone in the runner-up spot, Jared Esh and Brent Ely waged a several lap, side by side duel for third before Esh eventually secured the position.
Gerhart may have escaped dealing with lapped traffic earlier in the race, but the final four trips were absolutely perilous for the leader as he was mired in an incredible 12-car gaggle of competitors who were racing one another and using every inch of the speedway. Gerhart nimbly weaved his mount high and low, wherever he needed to go to slip by the cars in his way.
Somehow he made it, crossing the stripe by more than 1.25-seconds in front of Troxel, who turned in a season-best runner-up finish. Eleventh-starting Esh wound up third with Ely taking the checkered in fourth. The guy who loaned his spare engine to the race winner, Dan Souder, was fifth, and he quickly exited his car and ran to victory lane to congratulate Gerhart.
With 24 of the 600’s entering the fray, Mike Rutherford, Esh, and Souder were victorious in heat race action.
Kenny Miller III, winner of three features this year in the 250cc Four-Stroke Class, had an unusually rough night in that division. His Four-Stroke machine felt the effects of mechanical gremlins all night long, but he probably didn’t care (as much) after he captured his very first 270cc Two-Stroke main.
The Birdsboro driver, a Twin Valley High School student, led wire to wire in the 25-lapper for the 270’s on Saturday. He survived a pair of yellows with two to go, then one more caution period after the white flag had been displayed. The teen maintained his composure on every restart, though, and throttled away from rookie Tyler Ulrich each time the green reappeared. Miller won by almost a full second over Ulrich, who notched a Lanco career best runner-up effort by holding off Dave Grube. Ulrich and Grube waged an entertaining tussle for second place for many laps, with Ulrich’s Hurst Exteriors No. 42u finally claiming the spot.
Brian Sholley and 17th-starting Austin Bishop completed the top five.
A solid field of 31 cars signed in for 270cc competition on Saturday, with the three qualifying heats going to Bradley Brown, Ken Miller, and his son (the feature winner), Kenny III. Heath Hehnly won the consolation race.
Mount Joy’s Darren Miller recorded his fourth triumph of the season in the 125cc feature. Miller rumbled from the ninth starting position to run inside the top five within the first few revolutions, then sliced his way past Grube and Kyle Hehnly to take over second place…but not for long.
Miller gunned his Gorski Racing, Pork Producers No. 29 to the inside of Nick Sweigart as the duo charged off turn four on the sixth tour. Miller forged ahead, taking a lead that he would not relinquish over the remainder of the 25-lap event.
With Miller cruising out front, Sweigart and Grube waged a nip-and-tuck battle for second over the second half of the race. Grube threw everything he could think of at the No. 18s, but Sweigart held his ground and earned a well deserved runner-up pay envelope.
At the finish, it was Miller, Sweigart, Grube, Chase Gutshall, and Zach Hollinger making up the top five.
Heat wins for the 20-car field went to Gutshall and K. Hehnly.
The Sportsman competitors had not raced for the past two weeks, and it was apparent they were hungry for action as their 25-lapper needed numerous attempts to complete a lap.
Mertztown’s Curtis R. Miller made a nifty move on a restart with 11 complete, diving from the outside lane (he was fourth on the restart) to pass Mike Rutherford and run three-wide for the lead in turns one and two with rookie Patrick Kirn and recent winner Sami Schenck.
Schenck gave way before she ran out of racing room, and Miller beat Kirn to the backstretch to become the new leader. Kirn fought back, as he and Miller waged a wheel to wheel battle for the next three circuits before Miller ( a second cousin to the 270cc victor) cleared Kirn’s No. 16P and claimed the top spot for good with ten to go.
Miller was involved in two of the opening lap scrapes, meaning he had to navigate his way from the back of the pack until he was in a position to execute that move on the lap 12 restart.
Once in front, Miller checked out, beating Rutherford to the checkered flag by nearly 2.5-seconds. Schenck got a little bit too high in turn one as she battled Rutherford and Kirn, losing a couple spots before rebounding to finish third. In only six career starts at the Clyde (beginning with this year’s Memorial Day Open Show), Schenck has five top-5 finishes, including her first Lanco victory on June 28.
Kirn hung on for his best ever finish of fourth, with Bobby Shanaman rounding out the top five.
Kirn also earned the Weld Racing Fast Lap of the Feature, turning the quickest lap of the main event at 10.709-seconds.
Bret Habecker, Curtis R. Miller, and Wesley Fasnacht won heat races for the 23 Sportsman.
Dave Ravel powered to his third win of the year in the 250cc Four-Stroke Class. Ravel, from Reading, began the 25-lapper on the outside of row four. He passed two cars in one move (Kenny Miller III and Eddie Nocera) to take over third position on the ninth trip around the clay, then squeezed by Devin Adams for second at the halfway point.
Ravel chased down race-long leader Ryan Shupp in rapid fashion before gassing his Al’s Service Center, Angelo’s Pizza No. 69k to the low side and passing Shupp for the lead on the 15th tour.
Shupp stayed within striking distance, but Ravel remained firmly in command, winning by almost a half-second over Shupp, with Adams racing home in third. Nocera and rookie Kassidy Michael completed the top five.
Four-Stroke heats were won by Nocera and Adams, as 13 drivers signed in for Saturday’s program.
This Saturday, July 19, is the final tune-up for all five weekly divisions before the grandaddy of all Lanco events, the annual Clyde Martin Memorial Race on July 26.
This week’s program will be sponsored by Mongoose Chassis and Hickory Run Campground, and the feature races will be recorded for broadcast by Blue Ridge Cable Channel 11 of Ephrata.
Gates open at 3:30 on Saturday, with warm-ups getting underway at 5 p.m. The first heat race goes green at 6:00, as the 600cc, 270cc, 125cc, Sportsman, and 250cc Four-Strokes do battle in qualifying heats, consolations, and 25-lap main events.
Adult general admission is just $8.00, with discounts for Senior Citizens and Students. Tickets for youth between the ages of six and 12 are priced at only $2.00, and children under the age of six are free. And parking is always free at the Clyde!
It’s home to some of the finest open wheel, short track racing on dirt…so come join us and LIVE the excitement that is Lanco!
600cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Chris Gerhart, 2.Taylor Troxel, 3.Jared Esh, 4.Brent Ely, 5.Dan Souder, 6.Mike Rutherford, 7.Bret Cronrath, 8.Troy Musselman, 9.Brittany Brown, 10.Jered Hook, 11.Rebecca LaMothe, 12.Shaun Brandel, 13.Zach Light, 14.Ryan Hook, 15.Luke Thomas, 16.Nate Prazenica, 17.Chris Panczner, 18.James Morris, 19.Dylan Binkley, 20.Heath Hehnly, 21.Devin Gundrum, 22.Jason Swavely. DNS: Corry Roth; Sammy LaMothe.
270cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Kenny Miller III, 2.Tyler Ulrich, 3.Dave Grube, 4.Brian Sholley, 5.Austin Bishop, 6.Jarid Kunkle, 7.Billy Logeman, 8.Heath Hehnly, 9.Cameron Bellinger, 10.Mike Rutherford, 11.Kyle Spence, 12.Ken Miller, 13.Bradley Brown, 14.Nate Weidman, 15.Toby Blumenshine, 16.Ronald Helmick, 17.Barry Shearer, 18.Ricky Sechrist Jr., 19.Dan Lane Jr., 20.Nick Sweigart, 21.Daniel Braun, 22.Nick Skias, 23.Brandon Heist, 24.Mike Binkley.
DNQ: Elizabeth Helmick, Christi Sweigart, Corey Schmuck Jr., Kallie Thomas, Terry Ellex, Damon Bomgardner, Matt Peachy.
125cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Darren Miller, 2.Nick Sweigart, 3.Dave Grube, 4.Chase Gutshall, 5.Zack Hollinger, 6.Jas Hehnly, 7.Damon Bomgardner, 8.Matthew Donley, 9.Kyle Hehnly, 10.Brie Weiler, 11.Thomas Kelley, 12.Dylan Adams, 13.Brooklyn Shearer, 14.Dustin Adams, 15.Justin Harrington, 16.William Manotti, 17.Walt Wampole, 18.Brandon Gibble, 19.Tajae Adams, 20.Jimmy Wampole.
Sportsman Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Curtis R. Miller, 2.Mike Rutherford, 3.Sami Schenck, 4.Patrick Kirn, 5.Bobby Shanaman, 6.Ken Miller, 7.Bret Habecker, 8.Wesley Fasnacht, 9.Megan Mercado, 10.Brandon Bucher, 11.John Davis, 12.Charles Hellinger, 13.Corey Schmuck Jr., 14.Kim Minzer, 15.Randy Landis, 16.Dave Kemp, 17.Jenna Heagy, 18.Ava Bellinger, 19.Anthony Yerger, 20.Brian Becker, 21.Jason Rhoads, 22.Steve Smith Sr., 23.Kerry Lengle.
250cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Dave Ravel, 2.Ryan Shupp, 3.Devin Adams, 4.Eddie Nocera, 5.Kassidy Michael, 6.Lewis Kepple Jr., 7.Jarrett Imler, 8.Ronald Wechter, 9.Zachary Young, 10.Kenny Miller III, 11.Donna Geib. DNS: Brian Kramer; Ron Good.