Rick’s Racing Roundup: Local Racing Season Kicks Off With Chiller Thriller Season Opener

Sprint Cars will take center stage this summer for the return of western Pennsylvania Speedweek (Rick Rarer photo)The 2021 western Pennsylvania racing season officially kicked off this past Saturday.

(Sprint Cars will take center stage this summer for the return of western Pennsylvania Speedweek. Photo by Rick Rarer.)

Treated to great weather, racers and fans filled Michael’s Mercer Raceway for their annual Chiller Thriller season opener featuring the BRP Big Block Modified Tour. For the fourth consecutive year, it was local modified ace Rex King Jr who parked his familiar #165 modified in victory lane. When the checkered flag flew, it was Garrett Krummert and Justin Haers rounding out the podium.

The RaceSaver 305 sprint cars joined the modifieds Saturday, where young Logan McCandless scored his first career win. Other winners included BRP runner-up Garret Krummert in the RUSH modifieds, Carl Ealy in the mini stocks, and Dave Shagla took the pro stock feature win. Mercer Raceway will take the next few weeks off before presenting their first regular four-division program along with the 410 sprint cars on Saturday, April 24th.

Some exciting news announced over the off-season was the return of the once-popular western Pennsylvania Speedweek to the area after a twenty-year absence. The original Speedweek debuted in 1993 and was sanctioned by the All-Star Circuit of Champions with racing at many local tracks until its demise in 2000.

Max Blair picked up a big win over the weekend. Photo by Rick Rarer.

Max Blair picked up a big win over the weekend. Photo by Rick Rarer.

The resurrected Speedweek, which is the brainchild of local race personality Tyler Beichner, will feature five consecutive unsanctioned nights of sprint car racing at five different area tracks. Each race will pay a minimum of $3000 dollars to win and $250 to start along with nightly bonuses and a lucrative point fun which is still growing.

All of the area’s top sprint car teams are expected to take part in all or almost all of the five events. A handful of Ohio and eastern Pennsylvania invaders have also expressed interest in the event. The action gets started on Wednesday, June 2nd, at Michael’s Mercer Raceway, which hosted one of the original Speedweek dates back in 2000.

Thursday, June 3rd, the action moves to Thunder Mountain Speedway, where the sprint cars are always a popular attraction. This will be one of only two sprint car races in 2021 at the Brookville oval.

Friday, June 4th, sprint car teams will be on familiar turf when they do battle at western Pennsylvania’s Friday night sprint car home Lernerville Speedway. The Sarver oval has the most Speedweek history where they hosted seven shows starting from inception in 1993 until 2000.

On Saturday, June 5th, action will move just across the border to Sharon Speedway which has long been a staple on the popular Ohio Speedweek schedule. This year the Hartford oval will host shows for both Speedweeks. The Ohio track has boasted some of the highest car counts for local races the past two seasons as the track’s popularity continues to grow.

Rex King Jr continued his winning ways Satruday night at Mercer Raceway. Photo by Mark Swanson.

Rex King Jr continued his winning ways Satruday night at Mercer Raceway. Photo by Mark Swanson.

The action will come to a conclusion on Sunday, June 6th, just north of Franklin at Tri-City Raceway, another track that took place in the original western Pennsylvania Speedweek. After buying the track last season and running a successful full season, track owner Merle Black will look to do the same in 2021. Tri-City will host an open practice on April 10th, with the regular season getting underway on Sunday, April 18th.

Other exciting news from Tri-City was the announcement that Tony Stewart’s All-Star Circuit of Champions will return to the Venango County oval. The series will be in town on Sunday, May 2nd, for the first time since 2017, when Tim Shaffer scored the win.

Max Blair of Titusville scored another big win on the road over the weekend. He traveled east with the ULMS late model series to the historic Williams Grove Speedway this past Friday. Blair is a three-time series champion with thirty career wins to his credit, but this was his first at Williams Grove and worth three thousand dollars.
Lernerville Speedway will host a pair of test and tune events the next two weekends that open to the fans on April 2nd and April 9th. The action track will open its gates for racing the following Friday on April 16th, with the first Fab 4 racing event of 2021.


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