KUTZTOWN, Pa. – Even veteran drivers – seasoned by the experience of a couple thousand races under their belts at speedways all over the country – are excited about the reconfigured oval across the street from Kutztown University.
It’s called the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA, and the progressively-banked, 60-foot wide playground of clay sits on the Kutztown Fairgrounds…where the drivers known as “Mr. Excitement” and “CVD” will be among the star-studded participants this season.
Kenny Brightbill, the all-time leader in feature wins at the former Reading Fairgrounds and certified legend in dirt modified circles, will buckle into a black SpeedSTR bearing his familiar No. 19 when the Action Track opens for business on May 22.
“I tell people that this is what I’m running this year, and I can’t wait to get started,” said Brightbill recently, as he nodded toward his SpeedSTR as it sat on display at a Reading Royals ice hockey game. Brightbill and his car were part of the Action Track’s promotion at the game, along with a few other cars that will compete at the Berks County race place this year.
“A lot of people say, ‘oh really…there’s a track in Kutztown?’ They don’t know about it, so I’m helping to spread the word because these races are really going to be good,” noted Brightbill, dubbed “the Shillington Slingshot” by the late Warren Ruffner, the Reading Fairgrounds announcer who initially coined the nickname “Mr. Excitement” for Brightbill as well.
“They’re bringing in some very good drivers, paying a real good purse, and the track looks like it will be pretty racy,” said Brightbill. “I think the place will be packed for the first few shows; then it’s up to us to bring people back because we’re putting on a good show. And I think it will be a good show.”
Von Dohren, whose SpeedSTR is painted in his trademark blue and carries the No. 1c, agrees that the quality of the roster and the money being posted will pack the Action Track’s aluminum grandstands on May 22 and beyond.
“If these shows – with the names who will be running SpeedSTR’s and the layout of the track – don’t fill the stands, then things do not look good for the future of our sport,” predicted Von Dohren, who hails from Oley, Pa.
The all-time leading feature winner at Big Diamond Raceway near Minersville, Von Dohren has also been a winner in the SpeedSTR division, and he’s ready to tackle the non-wing, open wheel cars for a full season of Wild Wednesday competition at the Action Track, where the winner of each SpeedSTR main event will receive $2,000.
“There aren’t any Modified specials that I’m planning to attend on Wednesdays,” says Craig, “so I’ll be at Kutztown every week.”
Fans at the Reading Royals hockey game got a glimpse – and an earful – of Von Dohren’s SpeedSTR on Thursday, February 21st. Rich Tobias, creator of the class, drove the No. 1c onto the ice between the first and second periods so the spectators could see – and hear – the racecar in motion. The wingless 600cc Micro-Sprint of Tom Schearer was also pushed out on the ice while Tobias made a lap with the SpeedSTR.
Brightbill and Von Dohren join an impressive array of wheel-twisters who plan to get their midweek motorsports adrenaline rush at the Action Track this season. Names such as Jeff Strunk, Rick Eckert, “the Edge” Brian Monteith, Fred Rahmer (who will compete against his sons, Freddy and Brandon), Chad Layton, and Wayne Weaver will challenge division regulars Paul Lotier Jr., Brittany Wixon, and others.
Jeff Hartman, from Flagtown, N.J., has won the past three track championships in the wingless 600cc Micro-Sprint class. For 2013, however, Hartman will have to figure out the new configuration and surface, just like everyone else. Hartman and his brother Jay like the new layout, though, and they’re anxious to make some laps on the wider, banked oval, and a long list of 600cc wingless warriors join them in eager anticipation of opening night.
Kutztown’s own Jarid Kunkle, the defending 270cc Micro-Sprint point king, has his No. 75 ready to go as he attempts to repeat as track champion.
The Oley Jet, Brett Bieber, heads a stellar list of All Star Slingshot competitors who will find much more racing room on the renovated speedway. The Slingshots provided the highest average car count at Kutztown in 2012, and another solid field has indicated their intentions to be in the Action Track pit area when the season kicks off on May 22.