Auto racing has always been an integral part of country fairs, and motorsports certainly played a huge role for decades at the Reading Fair.
Several years ago, the Reading Fair was reborn at its new facility in Bern Township, a few miles north of the legendary former site that was the Home of Champions, the legendary half mile of clay known as the Reading Fairgrounds, where the Flatheads and then the big block Modifieds provided years of thrills and entertainment for attendees of the Fair.
The new site has played host to different types of racecars; a bit smaller but competitive and exciting, just like the ol’ days at the Fair. And this year will be no different, as all sorts of motorized mayhem lines the week-long Reading Fair schedule.
Returning for the tenth year will be the All Star and Junior Slingshots by Tobias, a scaled-down version of the Modifieds that roamed the RSCA half-mile for many seasons.
The All Star Slingshot competitors will race on Monday, August 4, with the Nostalgia Nationals winner receiving $1,000! Past winners of this event include Ryan Smith (now competing in the 410 Sprint Car division), his sister Shannon, former National Slingshot Champion Cody Kline, Matt Carman (who’s winning in New Egypt’s Crate Sportsman Class now) and Mike Glass (now a Sportsman Modified driver), among others. Once again, as it has since its inception in the previous decade, the Slinger’s Nostalgia Nationals will award National Touring points. That fact, combined with the stellar $1,000 payday for the winner, will surely attract the top All Star Slingshot competitors from all over the northeastern portion of the country. Carl Bittenbender was last year’s victor.
The track at the Bern Township facility lends itself to some extremely tight, competitive action. As proof, consider this: in the nine Nostalgia Nationals run to date, there has been only one driver to win the race more than once. The Iceman, Marc Daniels, has three victories at the Reading Fair (2006, 2007, and 2009). No one else has more than a single triumph in what has become a prestigious event for the Slingers. And Brett Bieber, the three-time and defending National Slingshot Champion who has a boatload of feature wins and track championships to go along with his National titles, is still searching for that elusive victory in the Nostalgia Nationals at the Reading Fair.
The younger Slingers will take part in a Junior National Tour Race on Monday night.
On Tuesday, August 5, the winged warriors of the 270cc Micro-Sprint division will toss some clay in anger. The 270’s debuted during last year’s Fair, and the close, competitive racing they presented was talked about for weeks afterward. Reading’s own Steve Drevicki won the inaugural over Kutztown’s Jarid Kunkle and teen sensation Austin Bishop. Drevicki is currently leading the American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) Midget point standings, but still enjoys every opportunity to buckle into his 270cc Micro-Sprint.
This year, the 270cc wheel-twisters will battle for a $500 winner’s check and solid purse all the way back through the field.
Added to this year’s Tuesday night program are the Sportsman Micro-Sprints that compete weekly at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. The 250cc Micros have grown in number this year and are waging some tremendous races at the Clyde. The Sportsman feature winner at the Reading Fair will pocket $300, and there will be NO entry fee (car registration) for the Sportsman.
The Stage One Modifieds will also appear on both Tuesday and Friday night (August 8), bringing their broadsliding, wheel-rubbing brand of excitement to the Bern Township oval.
The Stage One Mods will join the 125cc Micro-Sprints on Friday, August 8. The 125cc division, popular at Clyde Martin and a few other area speedways, will race for a $500 winner’s prize. The 250cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprints are eligible to race with the 125’s again this year. In 2013, Chip Geib bested the field in George Shupp’s Four-Stroke machine; the 125cc pilots are out for revenge this season.
Pit sign-in begins at 3:30 p.m. each race day, and the on-track action commences following a 6:00 driver’s meeting.
Early registration (pre-entry) is now open, and the deadline for pre-registration is July 28. There is some nice incentive to pre-enter, too, as all those who pre-register will be eligible for additional payout in their respective main events. Here’s how the creative program will work…
A special 50/50 drawing will be held each night (the All Star Slingshots, 270cc, and 125cc Micro-Sprints will be included in this bonus payout program), with 25% of the proceeds added to the pay of the highest finishing driver who has pre-registered. Enthusiastic crowds typically fill the spacious grandstand for the Fair’s racing events, so this added bonus could be quite lucrative to the throttle-jockey who enters early and then records a higher finish than any of the other pre-entrants. Sort of creates a race within a race and adds even more interest to the event, doesn’t it?
A driver must be pre-registered in order to compete for the bonus money, and the early registration deadline is July 28 (entries must be postmarked by that date). In lieu of pre-registering, however, entries will be accepted right up until race time each night.
Registration forms, along with additional information and details about the Reading Fair events, can be found at the following link:
Checks for pre-entry should be made payable to: RFRHS, and sent, along with the completed registration form, to Alan Carter, 235 W. Race Street, Fleetwood, PA 19522.
The Reading Fairgrounds Racing Historical Society promotes and presents the racing programs at the Reading Fair, and information on the events is also available on their Facebook page (Facebook.com/RFRHS).
The speedway, as well as the fairgrounds on which it sits, is located at 1216 Hilltop Road, Leesport, PA 19533.
It’s a step back into yesteryear, when dirt track racing was linked to good ol’, wholesome country fairs. Broadsliding, clay-throwing, wheel to wheel competition with a giant ferris wheel as the backdrop…
It just doesn’t get any better than that.