Meadville Tribune

August 20, 2013

The Pit Pass:

Gary Thayer
Special to The Meadville Tribune

CONNEAUT, Ohio — Jim Clinger of Waterford started a memorial race several years ago in memory of his son Chris. Chris passed away at the young age of 29. The elder Clinger is a well respected car owner and car builder known around the tri-state area. Over the years, Jim has personally invited E-Mod racers from around the tri-state area to come to Raceway 7 with a great race format including time trails, heat races, a B-main feature and the 29-lap feature — 29 laps in memory of Chris’ age when he passed away.  

However, for Friday night’s running of the Chris Clinger Memorial, Jim could not attend because of a stroke he suffered earlier this year. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t watch the race. His family set Jim up with a Skype account and he watched the race from the hospital. Jim even called his daughter in victory lane to congratulate the winner as the track announcer held the microphone close the phone so everyone could hear the conversation. There wasn’t a dry eye at the track.

Jim owns two cars, one is driven regularly by Russ Dunn.

The Clinger family asked a close family friend to drive the other car. Dave Hess,  of Waterford, jumped on the offer, even though Hess drives his own Super Late Model at Lernerville on Fridays.

However, the winner of this year’s Chris Clinger Memorial Race was Rich Michael of Ishua, N.Y.

Michael has won a number of races this season. But this win, he said, was special. It was a hard fought race with a field of great E-Mod drivers.

However, Michaels was hot. During the time trials for the race, he set a new E-Mod track record with a lap of 18.767 seconds. He later won his heat and then went on to grab the big feature.

In other action at Raceway 7, Bob Bland won the Econo Mods, Chris Withers won another feature in the Street Stocks, Zach Downs was the winner in the Mini Stocks and Dennis Lunger claimed his second feature of the year at Raceway 7 in the FASTRAK Late Models.

W.V. teen wins Knollinger Memorial

HARTFORD, Ohio — The RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series held the Gary Knollinger Memorial race Saturday night at Sharon Speedway with 23 Late Models entering the event.

Knollinger raced in the FASTRAK Late Models for a couple of years until his tragic death in a roadside accident. The Knollinger family started this memorial race in honor of their son. Ryan Montgomery, a 16-year-old out of Fairmont, bought a fast ride with him. He won his heat race, went on to win the dash race to claim a pole position, and at the end of the 30-lap feature crossed the finish line just ahead of Centerville’s Max Blair to take home a total of $2,125.

Montgomery didn’t have an easy feature win, though. Blair put the pressure on Montgomery and by lap 12 Blair took the lead. That running order lasted until lap 23 when Montgomery got by Blair to go on for the win. Blair took second and Hermitage driver Wil Thomas III was third.

The BOSS Wingless Sprints raced a 25-lap feature and they gave the fans a fun race to watch. The Wingless Sprints are just that, wingless. They are the same as the Sprints  at Mercer Raceway Park and Lernerville. Most of them have 410 engines and are exciting to watch.

Aaron Middaugh of Polk, Ohio won his very first feature and he did it with no brakes. In Sharon’s post-race report, Middaugh joked that driving brakeless is usually when he runs the best.

Middaugh and Brandon Spithaler were running first and second respectively for the last 15 laps. Spithaler tried to pass Middaugh and the duo even ran side by side at times. But Middaugh held on for the win over Spithaler as the crowd cheered them both.

Sharon’s Street Stock feature was loaded with cautions, but there was a  lot of close racing action while under green. Bristolville, Ohio driver Mike Clark was spun early in the 15-lap feature but came back through the field of cars. And on lap 10, Clark got by second place finisher Bob McCann to grab his third feature of the year.

The Econo Mod feature was the same — plagued with cautions. But at the end, Ryan Fraley of Wheatland got the checkered flag for his fourth feature win of the year.

In the Mini Stocks Jim Haefke Jr, of Austintown, Ohio picked up his second feature win of the year.

Big Blocks, 358’s go head-to-head at Mercer.

MERCER — The BRP Modified Tour was at Mercer Raceway Park Saturday night. The race pitted the Big Blocks against Mercer’s 358 Modifieds and the Big Blocks dominated.

Butler’s Dave Murdick led the way with the win over Brad Rapp.  Rapp had passed Chad Brachmann on the final turn for second and Brachmann was third.

In the Outlaw Sprints feature, it was Clarion’s Michael Bauer riding the outside rail for the win. Andy Feil came in second.

Gibsonia’s Pete Blazak led the way in the Mini Stocks for the win.

In the Street Stock feature, it was Robinson Township’s Bob Schwartzmiller finishing first.

Briggs stays hot at Eriez

HAMMETT — Boom Briggs of Bear Lake made his third trip to victory lane this year, and his second in a row, as he finished first in the Super Late Model feature at Eriez Speedway on Sunday. Robbie Blair and Mike Knight followed Briggs.

In the FASTRAK Late Models, Centerville’s Max Blair made an exciting last-lap pass over Kyle Zimmerman for the win.

Erie driver Gary Eicher has been on a limited schedule for the last couple of years. But this year, Eicher has been running very good and won Sunday’s E-Mod feature over Rich Michael. Eicher made his first visit to victory lane in a few years.

In the Limited Late Models, Waterford’s Steve Kania continued his winning ways, leading the night’s entire feature to put some pressue on Ryan Scott for the points lead.  

In the Street Stocks, Don McGuire won his first feature of the year at Eriez.

And in the Challengers, Tim Fisher made it back-to-back feature wins.

Eriez also hosted a race by the Ontario Topless Sprints on Sunday. Michael Fischesser of Cincinnati, Ohio was celebrating his first-ever feature victory after overtaking Johnny Beaber midway through the race.

Coming up ...

Next week at Eriez is the Joann Clinger Memorial with $1,500-to-win for the E-Mods.

The rest of the race tracks will have there regular show, except for Mercer Raceway Park, which is closed this coming weekend.

Until next week, take your family to the races.