Saturday was a beautiful night for dirt track racing and US 35 Raceway Park delivered for local fans and motorsport enthusiasts. The track also welcomed local farmers with their farmers free night sponsored by Garman Feed and Supply of South Salem.
The night’s feature races were headlined by the Sharon Boetcher Memorial race for the Mod Lite class. The Sharon Boetcher Memorial race was established to honor the late Sharon Boetcher mother of track owner and operator Tony Boetcher. The Mod Lite class was selected to race in her honor because it was her favorite class and the only race that she would never miss.
Prior to the start of the race all drivers in the Mod Lite class drove onto the front stretch, exited their cars to be introduced to the crowd, and participate in memorial ceremonies. Upon conclusion of the ceremonies the drivers climbed back in their cars and were invited by the Boetcher family, “Gentlemen start your engines!”
The race began with the 24 car driven by Trevor Daniels, of Washington Courthouse, jumping out to a lead from the pole position. A caution on the fifth lap of the race caused by the 4 car, driven by Joey Dingus of Galloway, as he spun coming out of turn two. On the restart Daniels grabbed the lead again followed closely by the 75 car, driven by Kevin Rittenhouse of Jeffersonville, in second. In third was Dylan Rittenhouse of South Solon in the 25 car. A tight race for first between Daniels and D. Rittenhouse resulted in a collision between the two. Daniels was able to drive away from the accident with minor damage while D. Rittenhouse was towed from the track. On the restart Daniels quickly gained a lead that he would not relinquish for the remainder of the race. Coming in second place was D. Rittenhouse in the 25 car and Cody Pickell of Grove City in the 56K car.
Being a regular at the track for nearly 20 years Daniels knew Sharon Boetcher personally. He shared what it meant to him to win the memorial race in her honor saying, “Sharon Boetcher has a special place in my heart, she was like a grandma to me. I’m glad that I can win it for her. That’s all I can do. We are celebrating her tonight and that’s all I can do to honor her.”
The Mini-Sprint class drivers were the next to bring their high powered machines onto the track. Josh Clifton of Blanchester won the feature in the 27 car. Second was Frankfort native Kyle Kruger in the 9K car and third Johnnie Starr in the 5 car hailing from Washington Courthouse.
The V8 Modified class entered the quarter mile bull ring and put on a show for the fans that saw Terry Humphrey of Grove City take home the checkered flag in the number 1 car. Humphrey ran a clean race and earned the win after leading the majority of the competition. Placing second was Pete Brunton of Thurman in the 06 car following closely behind in third was Eric Arledge in the 65 car from Washington Courthouse.
Humphrey told the Times-Gazette after the race, “It was a good race. There is another guy that is normally here, he is really fast and I would have liked for him to have been here.” Humphrey has raced on blacktop tracks for nearly 50 years. The switch to dirt track racing has been an obstacle for Humphrey but he reveals that US 35 Raceway Park, “This track is more suited for me until I learn a little bit more.”
The 4 cylinder stock class saw a good clean race in which Charles Dozier of Lancaster in the 319 car led for most of the race followed closely by the 44 car driven by Mark Clifford of Williamsport and the 3 car out of Springfield driven by Steve Duty. With two laps remaining Duty made his move around Clifford and Dozier, holding off both for the final two laps to claim the victory.
Duty, a veteran on the dirt track racing scene, said after the race that he comes to the quarter mile bull ring because, “The family atmosphere here is great. I have a young grandson and I want him to be part of the family atmosphere here.”
The Compact class was the largest feature of the night with 18 drivers participating in the race. Despite the large number of drivers the race went off without a hitch as Brent Smith of Bainbridge took home the checkered flag in the 7X car. The 82 car driven by Michael Skeens of Washington Courthouse was second followed by Jimmy Dunaway of Oakhill taking third place in the 9 car.
Smith revealed that he did not plan to come to 35 Raceway Park on Saturday when he said, “We were going to go to Lawrenceburg tonight but we had tire issues on the car. We decided to go ahead and change the tires and come here.” Smith also thanked his family and the owner of his car for their help in making the victory possible.
The Sport Mod class was a hotly contested race that featured clean driving and an exciting finish. Steve Noble in the 23N car out of Ray, Ohio took first place in the feature followed closely by Gregg Blackburn in the 34 car racing out of Grove City. Third went to Brandon Furniss of Orient in the 32 car.
The final feature of the night was the Hobby Stock class of cars and drivers. The second largest group of the night featured 17 drivers in the starting field with 14 finishing the race on the track. Brandon Harris in the 7B car out of Wellston took home the win in a hotly contested battle. Second went to Jip Howard of Minford in the 35 car with the 20-1 car driven by Brandon Allen of Jackson took home third place.
US 35 Raceway Park will be open again next Saturday August 5 for the Bill Secrest 4 cylinder stock memorial night. Hot Laps are scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m. and the feature races are scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.