HEDGER: Superfans Part No. 2


We ran through the Pro standings, topped by overall champion Ed Reichert, in part one of the 2013 SuperFans results. Now it’s time to run down the Amateur finish in part two.

We have a new name atop the ticket buyer’s feature, with New Yorker Joe Scholtisek of the Niagara Frontier town of Burt seeing 134 races in 2013. His entry came just as we finished up the report initially, then was short on info, accounting for the gap between round one and round two of our SuperFans feature posting.

An avid record keeper, Scholtisek tells us he spent some $1,352 at the ticket booth along with $907 for track food, saying, “I try to help out the tracks by eating at the races.” He also noted that he spent $507 on 50/50 tickets, winning once during the season, along with roughly $3,600 on gas for his 18,470 miles of travel to the various speedways he visited.

Now 63, Scholtisek tells us the solo drives are getting tougher but he still enjoys the travel, averaging more than 100 races for six of the past seven seasons. Stacker Two drinks, he notes, have become his trusty co-pilot.

His favorite program of 2013 started out poorly, as he called about the weather and became embroiled with the practice of Fonda Speedway’s former management using their regular business phone instead of one at the track. Luckily the weather held, as he had no way of using the internet to check as recommended, and a five-hour drive put him at Fonda, where he received his first World of Outlaws senior discount ever.

The discount was a sign of things to come, as the modifieds and World of Outlaws Late Models combined had but one yellow flag and the entire program, entertaining as it was, lasted only two hours. He also loved a show at another New York speedway, Black Rock, with both the modified and IMCA features won with last corner passes. Then the four-cylinder feature was won by the margin of one foot and the fourth-place car won the late model feature after a last lap scramble, sending him home totally impressed.

Besides missing the weekly edition of NSSN, Scholtisek tells us that his other disappointment is tracks not having someone answering the phone on race day. But on the other side of the coin, he related a great story of calling the office during a race at Wyoming County in Perry, N.Y., to find out what lap it was. Not only did he get an answer, but after that the announcer starting telling people what the lap count was.

As for food, Scholtisek cites Five Mile Point’s $4 Italian sausage sandwich as the best encountered on his tour, followed by the hot dogs at Elegant Builders Raceway Park, long known as Lancaster, near his hometown.

Bethlehem, Pa.’s Ron Oswald had led the standing right to the white flag but had to settle for second with a 127 race/38 track/10 state season. Amazingly, New York’s Five Mile Point and Utica-Rome Speedways, with 11 and 10 races, respectively, were his most visited speedways.

“The fans in New York don’t know how lucky they have it with all of the tracks still running modifieds,” declared Oswald, who says his top shows included the Hurricane 100 at Brewerton, Tim McCreadie’s three-wide win at Volusia, Fla., and a Bryan Clausen score at Arizona’s Canyon Raceway Park.

On the negative side, Oswald cites a three-way tie for worst show of 2013, saying “The ‘King of the Mountain’ show at Mountain Speedway lasted eight hours, the Tuesday portion of the ‘Battle at the Beach’ in Daytona was terrible and equally unimpressive was the very, very, very long two days of the Turkey Derby at Wall Stadium.”

Oswald spent $2,191 on admissions, as he enjoyed his retirement, and adds that, “The best food is found at any track that serves Hoffman hot dogs or salt potatoes,” another sign of his love for New York racing.

Mid-westerner Kevin Babcock was but a single race off Oswald’s pace, enjoying his 126 races at 46 tracks in eight states after a ton of rainouts in the spring. His No. 1 show of the year was the Herald and Review 100 at Macon, Ill., closely followed by the ASCS Nationals at Missouri’s U.S. 36 Raceway.

All told, he travelled 22,045 miles, spending $2,100 on admissions and around $1,800 on motel rooms.

“I like big special events but they are becoming more difficult to enjoy,” summed up Babcock. “Too many people come just to party and these people are usually successful in ruining a nice event for the fans that are unfortunate enough to be sitting anywhere near them.”

121 races at 56 speedways in 14 states put Cortland, Ohio, fan Ben Trask fourth at the checkers. The longtime SuperFan tipped that he saw great racing at Bubba Raceway Park and Volusia Speedway Park in Florida to start off his year, followed by winners at Boyd’s Speedway in Georgia and Tennessee’s Cleveland Speedway. He also loved shows at Winchester, Va., the Gas City, Ind., USAC sprint round, a Danny Johnson win at Brewerton, N.Y., a November race at Duck River and, to close out the year, a December show at Southern Cross.

“I’ll only mention two stinkers,” said Trask. “The Daytona backstretch modified race and Clary’s long, drawn out show in December were hard to sit through. Otherwise, I have the same complaints as always – late starts, long shows and dust. You would think tracks would get better over the years but some never learn, so there are fewer and fewer visits to them.”

On the food front, Trask closes with his feeling that Port Royal is best, followed closely by Oakshade.

Rounding out the top five was another Pennsylvanian, Marshall Kern of Slatedale, who got out to 110 races at 23 tracks, in the process spending $1,351 on tickets and $3,078 overall.

Kern believes the best weekly shows on dirt are the sprints at Lincoln and the Speedsters at Kutztown, saying, “Both tracks start on time and keep the events moving at a good pace. And at Kutztown, the wingless 600 Micro sprints and the Speedsters are both exciting.”

Weekly pavement honors go to Mahoning Speedway in Lehighton, which Marshall calls “Hard to beat, with good action and a timely show.”

His worst shows included a four hour, 45 minute two-division show at New Egypt where the RoC modifieds found a rough track and intermission stretched to some 55 minutes and a seven-plus hour show at Bridgeport that started 45 minutes late, then had a one-hour intermission followed by a one and a half hour modified feature with 17 yellows for flat tires. Kern also disliked the aforementioned Mountain Speedway marathon, saying it “went more than eight hours for five divisions after starting 40 minutes late.

“But even with a few bad shows at times, I still enjoy short track racing,” summed up Kern for SuperFans everywhere.

Next time we’ll complete the Amateur rundown starting with sixth-place finisher Bob Litton, another mainstay of the Iowa short track scene.

Read Part 1 Here

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Ron Hedger
A veteran of nearly 40 years with SPEED SPORT, Hedger has also covered auto racing for the Schenectady, N.Y., Daily Gazette and was a contributor to Stock Car Racing and Open Wheel magazines.