In an age of declining car counts in almost all divisions of motorsports, the present and future of Micro-Sprint racing – especially at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway – appears to be in very good health.
On the weekend of March 28 & 20, during pre-season tech and safety checks at Bud’s Spring Service in Lancaster, an incredible tally of 146 cars passed through the inspection line, with more than 30 entries (each) in the 600cc, 270cc, and Sportsman Classes.
With the Spring Has Sprung Season Opener less than two weeks away (Saturday, April 11), the breakdown of cars inspected in each of the five weekly classes looked like this: 32 of the 600cc Micros; 36 of the 270cc; 36 Sportsman; 27 of the 125cc Micro-Sprints; and 15 of the 250cc Four-Stroke cars.
Now that the mandatory inspection has passed, the focus turns to this Saturday’s Practice Night. The Easter Eve Test ‘n Tune sessions will follow the time schedule listed below:
Schedule of Events
Gates Open: 2:00 PM
Re-Inspections: 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Rookie Orientation: 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM (includes track time)
Open Practice (all divisions): 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
This practice night is only open to Lanco member cars that went through the inspection process on inspection weekend and ARDC midgets. The car must have at least passed the safety parts of the inspection to participate in practice night.
Pit Admission – $5.00/person
Car Entry – $10.00/car
Grandstand Admission – Free
The Spring Has Sprung 2015 Season Opener, kicking off the 58th year of Micro-Sprint competition under the Lanco sanction, is slated for Saturday, April 11. Gates will open at 3:30 p.m., with warm-ups set for 5:00. The first heat race of the new season will take the green flag at 6 p.m.
The five weekly divisions, 600cc, 270cc, 125cc, Sportsman, and 250cc Four-Strokes, will take part in qualifying heats, consolations, and 25-lap feature races.
2015 Season Preview for Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway:
Jim Harrington, the newly elected Lanco club President, revealed he’s been getting emails from several drivers who say they will, for the first time in their careers, make the Clyde their Saturday night home this season. As was the case in 2014, the Sportsman Class should see the biggest spike in car count although the 270cc and 600cc divisions will also grow, according to the communications received by Harrington.
Perhaps the word has spread throughout the Micro-Sprint community that the track has undergone a bit of a face lift; the oval has been re-graded to remove the “shelf” that formed on top of the turns at both ends of the speedway. The track is back to the progressively banked state featured about five years ago, where the bottom is very flat and the banking dishes out steadily – all the way to the guardrail that lines its outer edge. Drivers are salivating over the thought of planting their right-rear tires against the guardrail in all four corners, and thoughts of giant slide jobs are also dancing in their heads as they anticipate what the re-grading will do to enhance the already amazing action on the “biggest little race track in the USA.”
Who will be the odds-on favorites to win lots of races and the coveted 2015 point titles? In some classes, it’s hard to bet against the current champions. Like WWE Hall of Famer and multi-time WCW Champ Ric Flair always said, “to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.”
That catch-phrase certainly applies to the 270cc, 600cc, and Sportsman divisions. Mike Rutherford has captured the past three point crowns in the 270cc Class, and as long as he’s paired with car owners Ken and Tony Kaylor, Rutherford is the man to beat for the 270cc title. That division appears to be in the midst of a slow but steady changing of the guard, however, as young lions like Bradley Brown, Kyle Spence, Dave Grube, Dan Lane Jr., Dylan Adams, and Kenny Miller III are consistently running up front and snaring victories. Time will tell if one of them can overtake Rutherford for the championship.
Brown is coming off a break-through season in 2014 that saw him record wins in some of the biggest races of the year (Clash at the Clyde and the Clyde Martin Memorial Race). He’s made it clear that his team is looking for more consistency this season and he’ll settle for nothing less than the championship.
In the 600cc ranks, Heath Hehnly has recorded three of the past four and four of the last six point titles, making him the favorite until someone else proves they can unseat the Manheim resident. Hehnly will try to win this year’s crown for a new car owner, as he teams with Gary Hunter. My pick to possibly dethrone Hehnly’s quest for a fifth championship is Jason Swavely, although there are several others (Rutherford, Brent Ely, James Morris, Chris Gerhart, and Jared Esh to name a few) who have the experience and capability to step up and win it all. Swavely notched the Linda’s Speedway wingless title last season, and also won the Tri-Track Challenge in July of ’14. He was a two-time winner at the Clyde and finished third in points; he’s like nothing better than to win the point crown in his RTS Chassis.
Curtis R. Miller won the Sportsman point chase in ’14, and the Mertztown teenager has the car and talent to repeat in the upcoming campaign. With the class growing by leaps and bounds, though, you never know who might come out on top in this year’s point standings. Miller’s cousin, Anthony Yerger, finished runner-up in last year’s points and could produce a breakout season in 2015. This is turning into one of the most competitive and fun divisions to watch at the Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway, and predicting a point champion is virtually impossible. Considering that 36 Sportsman machines went through the recent inspection process, this division will be edge of your seat exciting all year long.
The same could be said for the 250cc Four-Stroke Class. Last year’s champ, David Ravel, may or may not return to defend his title. Devin Adams, third in last season’s point chase, is moving to the Sportsman division, so the driver to beat (as long as he remains a Four-Stroke competitor) is probably Kenny Miller III. Miller finished second to Ravel in the standings and led the class with six feature wins last year.
The car that has racked up the last three point crowns in the 125cc division will have a new shoe in its seat this season. Justin Harrington will steer Gary Gorski’s No. 29, and Harrington immediately has a bulls-eye on the back of his racing suit due to the past success of his ride. Richie Hartman (twice) and Darren Miller (last year) have driven the No. 29 to the past three championships; now we’ll see if Harrington can win his first Lanco title. He’s definitely title-worthy, finishing seventh in points with a single feature win during the ’14 season.
Dave Grube, coming off a 125cc championship at Linda’s, is primed to capture his first Clyde Martin crown. A three-time winner and runner-up in points last year has many observers looking for Grube to finally break through and score his first 125cc point title at the Clyde. He’ll have to contend with Harrington, Chase Gutshall, Kyle and Jas Hehnly, Nick Sweigart, and a handful of others who could easily prove the prognosticators wrong, but it’s a sure bet that Grube will be a strong contender for the 125cc laurels.
The anticipation and planning end when the new season begins on April 11. Then it’s wall to wall and end to end action, and you’ve just gotta come out and LIVE the excitement that is Lanco!
By Barry Angstadt – https://www.facebook.com/barry.angstadt?fref=ts&ref=br_tf