Two Big Shows At Sharon Cap Off Ohio Speedweek

Two Big Shows
Sharon Speedway will host two nights of action to close out Ohio Sprint Speedweek. (Julia Johnson photo)

HARTFORD, Ohio – For the first time since the 2001 Sharon Nationals, the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions will visit Sharon Speedway for a two-day show.

Saturday and Sunday, July 11-12, Tony Stewart’s traveling band will conclude the 38th annual Cometic Gasket Ohio Sprint Speedweek with a pair of $6,000 to-win races.

First up on Saturday is the Lou Blaney Memorial presented by Premier Pallet & Recycling, followed by Justin Snyder’s Salute to the Troops on Sunday. Saturday’s event will include the BRP Modified Tour, while the non-winged RUSH sprint cars will be on Sunday’s card.

Fans are encouraged to experience the new infield fan zone and take advantage of racing from a unique perspective for no more than the cost of general admission.

Gates open at 3 p.m. each day, with racing at 7.

Saturday’s Lou Blaney Memorial will celebrate the life and accomplishments of the Hall of Fame driver, who won more than 600 feature victories during a five-decade career.

The legend has at least 121 modified wins and another 11 documented in a sprint car at Sharon alone. Blaney passed away in 2009 after battling Alzheimer’s.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no friends and family dinner this year. There will still be the Chinese Auction with approximately 40 baskets, Lou Blaney Memorial t-shirts will be on sale, and there will also be the live auction starting at 5 p.m. under the pavilion in the fan zone. All of these proceeds benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

For the sixth straight year, Saturday’s Lou Blaney Memorial will be under the All Stars’ sanction, but first ever as part of Ohio Sprint Speedweek.

It took 10 years, but there was finally a repeat winner for the sprint car portion of the “Lou Blaney Memorial in 2018, and it was none other than track owner Dave Blaney.

Ironically, last season saw younger brother Dale Blaney capture his first event win to become the 10th different winner in 11 years!

Series owner Tony Stewart won the inaugural event in 2009. Mike Lutz was the first local winner after taking the 2010 version. Texan Sam Hafertepe, Jr. won in 2011, while Californian Brad Sweet, the 2019 World of Outlaws champion, was victorious in 2012.

Jack Sodeman Jr. became the second local driver to win the prestigious event in 2013, while Dave Blaney won his father’s memorial for the first time in 2014.

Sheldon Haudenschild, now in his fourth season with the WoO, won the 2015 event.

Pittsburgh’s Danny Holtgraver won the biggest race of his career in 2016. Christopher Bell, who went on to NASCAR glory, won his first race at the track in 2017.

While rain washed out both scheduled All Star appearances in 2019 leading up to the Lou Blaney Memorial, the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled both scheduled appearances by the series before the “Lou Blaney Memorial” in 2020.

Only one race has been completed during the 91st anniversary season at Sharon, with Dave Blaney capturing his 32nd 410 win at his home track on June 27, worth $3,000.

Justin Snyder’s Salute to the Troops event honors one of open wheel racing’s most loyal and dedicated supporters – the late Justin Snyder – as well as features a benefit for the Wounded Warrior Project.

It has uprooted from central Pennsylvania and moved to Sharon for the first time. The event will conclude Ohio Sprint Speedweek, which offers an $11,000 point fund and pays out $4,000 to the champion.

Snyder was a retired Army combat veteran who did two tours in Afghanistan as a proud member of the US Army 10th Mountain Division. Once retired, he moved to central Pa. before his passing on April 19, 2016.

Remembered by those closest to him as a loyal friend and by anybody who met him, Snyder was known for his compassionate smile and wholehearted laugh.

The Wounded Warrior Project was founded by veterans and positions itself with veterans to support those in need including their families. It provides help through independent, peer, and family support including combat stress recovery services to help those struggling both physically and/or emotionally as they strive to adjust and integrate back into civilian life.

“After four successful years in Central Pennsylvania at BAPS Motor Speedway, we are extremely excited to bring Justin Snyder’s Salute to the Troops race back home to Sharon Speedway,” said Derek Snyder, older brother of the late Justin Snyder and the Executive Manager and Partner of Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC. “My family’s passion for racing began at Sharon. My earliest memories are my brother and I attending our father’s company picnic hosted at Sharon Speedway during the Sharon Nationals, then camping out with our aunts, uncles, and cousins in the parking lot. Our father supported the track with pace cars and sponsorships clear back to the mid 80s. Snyder Pontiac Buick GMC Cadillac also sponsored Lou Blaney for several years. So, having the privilege to host Justin’s race the same weekend as the Lou Blaney Memorial is an incredible honor.”

“It just seemed very fitting for me to keep this going by bringing the race to Sharon,” added Derek Snyder. “This is something I believe my brother would be incredibly proud of. I’m so grateful for our family’s relationship with Lou and Kate Blaney over the years. I wanted to be certain that I had Kate’s blessing prior to even considering this move and date. Thankfully, she obliged and here we are. I want to thank Jared of the All Stars for the Series’ support, as well. This race has really taken on a life of its own, especially when you look at the past winners including Danny Dietrich, Greg Hodnett, Tony Stewart, and Gerard McIntyre Jr.

“I encourage all of our friends and family, including our Central Pennsylvania racing family, to join us in keeping Justin’s memory alive as we honor our nation’s bravest.”

Lee Jenson of Dragon Slayer Industries created the trophy for Sunday’s All Star winner.

The fastest qualifier will receive $500 in memory of Richard Murcko, provided by his brother Reggie Murcko.

SPEED SPORT’s Ohio Sprint Speedweek coverage is presented by Cometic Gasket Inc., a leading worldwide supplier of gaskets and engine sealing solutions for the automotive performance, powersports, original equipment and remanufactured engine industries. No matter what you ride, Cometic Gasket can seal your machine so you can focus on the finish line.

Since 1989, Cometic has been living, breathing, and eating powersports. As a proud supporters of GNCC, AMA, NASCAR, and other race-teams across the country, Cometic understands what it takes to put everything on the line with one goal in mind. When you earn your living racing at the highest level against the best in the country, engine failures simply aren’t an option. Champions across the world continue to use Cometic Gasket for their engine-sealing solutions. Whether they’re driving a Gen-6 stock car or riding a top fuel motorcycle, Cometic Gaskets are the reliable source in extreme conditions.

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