LEHIGHTON, Pa. – On Sunday afternoon Mahoning Valley Speedway welcomed one of the most heralded short track racers of all time to the tight paved quarter mile oval as Kenny Brightbill was in town to promote the “Mid-Summer Thunder! Where Dirt Stars Meet The Asphalt” show slated for June 29, 2014.
The special event will feature the first ever appearance of the Sunoco USAC Championship SpeedSTRs along with the National Slingshot All-Star Tour, Junior National Slingshot Tour, the Micro Stock Racing Series and a yet to be named class.
Brightbill, who earlier this season won the 2013 JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA track championship with the SpeedSTR, had his Weichert Realtors/Tabloid Graphics No. 11 title winning car at Mahoning for a special test session. He was joined by John Kovatch and Kyle Lick, who shared driving duties in the Harry’s U-Pull It/Kovatch Ford No. IV SpeedSTR. Also on hand was a Tobias Slingshot that was co-driven by the same pair and a second Slingshot car that was handled by Bobby Smith Jr. and prepared by Randy Smith.
Other drivers in attendance who took part in “Mid-Summer Thunder!” announcement were 2013 Mahoning Modified track champion Eric Beers, multi-time track titlist Keven Graver Jr. and Micro Stock racer Mario Oberto.
“The Mid-Summer Thunder! Where Dirt Stars Meet The Asphalt” was conceived by Mahoning Valley race director Tim Santee and SpeedSTR and Slingshot creator Rich Tobias. While at Motorsports 2013, they shared booth space near one another. Santee approached Tobias on possibly bringing his cars to Mahoning and since then they continued to keep in touch. When this year’s race season concluded both parties met and laid the ground work for the special show that would entail a cross promotion between Mahoning Valley Speedway and JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA in Kutztown, which Tobias promotes.
There will be two such shows at Mahoning Valley with the first being the afternoon of June 29 and again during Octoberfast 2014 weekend. Brightbill and all the Wednesday night stars at Kutztown will be part of the Mahoning race meets. ’13 Mahoning champ Beers will also be in the lineup. He will also race at Kutztown.
“It’s pretty exciting. The Santee’s are great people and this is something that is exciting, fresh and new,” said Tobias. “It was great to see Kenny Brightbill out there today, a dirt track guy sliding around this place. I’m sure they’ll take a little bit to get figured out and once they do it will be some awesome racing here.
“We’re also happy to say that Otto Sitterly will be coming down from Oswego and run that show. You’ll have Bill Pauch Sr., and Jr., Rick Eckert, Brian Montieth, Jeff Strunk, Frank Cozze, Ryan Godown and a whole gaggle of them. They’ll run the Action Track in Kutztown in 2014 and they’ll all be over here to run. It’s going to be a great historic event.”
Although this marked an official test session, the SpeedSTR was at Mahoning once before. In January of 2007 Tobias had just completed work on the then new car and needed a track to try out his creation. He called then Mahoning promoter Doug Hoffman who gave him the keys to the track for the day to shake down the car.
SpeedSTR stands for Short Track Racer and is a self-starting, open wheel race car powered by a 2.4 liter dual overhead cam Mopar engine. Tobias wanted to give his Slingshot teams and other divisional teams the opportunity to have an affordable vehicle to advance their racing careers. Not only does he provied a purse structure that makes sense for his teams, but he also seeks out race venues that have history and prestige for his racers to compete at and now includes Mahoning Valley Speedway.
The SpeedSTRs compete at other tracks in the Northeast such as, Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway, Shangri-La II Speedway in Tioga Center, N.Y., Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa., Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown, Pa., New Egypt (N.J.) Speedway, Cayuga County Fair Speedway in Weedsport, N.Y., plus many more.