Pennsylvania Racing News
Monday, March 4, 2013
Reading Fairgrounds Speedway Stars Draw Crowd at Fairgrounds Square Mall Friday
by Brett Deyo
READING, Pa. -- The Fairgrounds Square Mall was jammed to overflow on Friday evening as drivers from the ‘Home of Champions’ Reading Fairgrounds Speedway gathered in Center Court as part of the 28th annual Berks-Schuylkill Oil Heat Association Racing Legends Reunion & Car Show.
Some 18 personalities from the Reading Fairgrounds Speedway – which hosted its final event in June 1979 – assembled on the Muhlenberg Township, 5th Street Highway site of their former weekend home to share stories, meet fans and relive memories of the late ‘Kutztown Komet’ Freddy Adam, who the community recently lost. Jeff Ahlum served as master of ceremonies as throngs of racing enthusiasts looked on from around the stage.
Leading the Reading personalities was the ‘Everett Express’ Gerald Chamberlain, who made the drive from Western Pennsylvania to participate in the event. He was joined by legendary Kenny Brightbill, Glenn Fitzcharles, Gary Gollub, Red Coffin, Bobby Braxton, Del Bitting, Blaine Sadler, Russ Smith, Dick Qualio, Dizzy Dean, Whitey Kerschner, Tim Higgins, Junior Mikosz, Russ Lewis, Archie Myers, Alan Carter and Donny Eskey.
Following the activities at the mall, attention turned to the BASH Racing Awards Party at the Temple Fire Company on Kutztown Road in Temple, Pa., where show awards were presented.
The fourth Don Marks Memorial Contribution to Motorsports Award was presented to driver, car owner, mechanic and ‘racing Dad’ Tom Umbenhauer. A resident of Richland, Pa., Umbenhauer’s two sons Jared (Sportsman) and Jordan (358-Modified) compete weekly at Grandview (Pa.) Speedway and in special events.
Umbenhauer owns (and occasionally drives) a No. 19 small-block Modified which will be piloted by Bobby Varin in high-paying shows. He also maintains Rick Clay’s No. 88c equipment, this year to be driven by Varin and last year guided to Victory Lane by Ryan Godown. Umbenhauer has a long history in the sport dating back to the Street Stock ranks.
The Don Marks Memorial Contribution to Motorsports Award was first handed out in 2010 to honor the memory of late Grandview Speedway and Area Auto Racing News photographer Marks, who passed away in 2008. Previous award recipients include Bob Greene of Pioneer Pole Buildings (2012), car owner, fabricator and former racer Dennis ‘Chico’ Bailey (2011) and Area Auto Racing News publisher/promoter Len Sammons (2010).
The fan-voted overall Best of Show, determined by ballots in the event program, went to Dakota Kohler’s No. 59 Slingshot.
Divisional awards were voted upon by media members attending the show during the week. Winners were Kyle Weiss (Modified), Jordan Henn (Sportsman), Sammy Schaeffer (Late Model), Mike Grim’s Freddy Adam No. 8 (Vintage/Restored), Ryan Greth (Open Wheel), Rick Shive (Go-Kart), Dakota Kohler (Small Car), Jeff Hartman (Micro-Sprint) and Dylan Pence (Quarter Midget).
BASH attendees were treated to racing films from GSP Video and music from ‘T.J. the D.J.’ T.J. Fitzpatrick.
The Racing Legends Reunion & Car Show concludes today (Saturday). Race cars will move out of the mall at 9 p.m.
A wide cross-section of race cars, nearly 100 strong, have filled the aisles of the Fairgrounds Square Mall for the event, which honors the past, present and future of auto racing. The show, with primary backing from Berks-Schuylkill Oil Heat Association with Pioneer Pole Buildings Inc. and VP Racing Fuels offering associate support, runs through Saturday (March 2) with a busy schedule of events. The Racing Legends Reunion is free-to-the-public during mall hours.
Vehicles of all shapes and sizes are on display at show, including big- and small-block Modifieds, Sprint Cars, Micro-Sprints, SpeedSTRs, ARDC Midgets, Late Models, Sportsman, Street Stocks, Slingshots, Quarter Midgets, XCel 600 Modifieds and more.
Fans of racing’s past enjoy an expansive display of vintage and restored cars assembled by the Reading Fairgrounds Speedway Racing Historical Society. A room full of memorabilia allows attendees to take a step back in time to the famed ‘Home of Champions’ which hosted its final event in June 1979.
Vintage Cars from the Penn-Mar group and Blast from the Past Vintage Club are also on display.
Many of the area’s top speedways and sanctioning bodies are on hand to distribute information and meet fans and racers during the weeklong show. For the first time, both New Jersey dirt tracks – New Egypt Speedway and Bridgeport Speedway – have displays at the show. The new JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA of Kutztown, Pa., now led by Rich Tobias and Doug Rose, has assembled an expansive setup highlighting each of the speedway's weekly divisions.
Others participating at the show include Grandview (Pa.) Speedway/Thunder on the Hill Racing Series, URC, ARDC, LANCO’s Clyde Martin (Pa.) Memorial Speedway, BD Motorsports Media LLC/Friesen-Deyo Promotions and the Montgomery County Quarter Midget Racing Club (Pa.’s Phoenixville Raceway).
The Checkered Flag Fan Club is at the show actively recruiting new members and publicizing their organization. The Reading Eagle newspaper – an avid supporter of local racing - also has plans to participate in the show. The Eastern Museum of Motor Racing (EMMR) also put together a popular display.
A number of vendors are on hand selling memorabilia, photos and other novelties. Gary Silverman of Gary Silverman Productions has DVDs on sale from the 2012 Pennsylvania 358-Modified Dual-Track circuit and other special events, while events of yesteryear recorded on film are sold by Snyder Video Productions.
Fast Action Motorsports Entertainment has set up their R/C track at the show all week. Up to 10 drivers can participate at one time. All those who race leave with a checkered flag. Big winners take home a trophy.
Mike Feltenberger hosts his popular Alley Racing nightly through the show.
This year’s pays tribute to a pair of prominent members of the local racing community lost recently. 2013 Racing Legends Reunion & Car Show apparel, designed by Bob Hilbert Sportswear, is a 'must-have' for fans of the sport. The shirt honors the racing career of dirt and pavement driver Doug Hoffman, who passed away unexpectedly on Christmas Eve 2012. Not only was Hoffman one of the Northeast's greatest drivers of all time, he also proved his meddle as a promoter at Mahoning Valley (Pa.) Speedway and Bridgeport Speedway.
The shirt features 10 of Hoffman's most memorable cars from his career ranging from his very first pavement Late Model for Dorney Park (Pa.) Speedway to the car he drove to his final victory: Sal DeBruno’s South Jersey Overhead Door No. 0.
Shirt pricing is set at $20 (tee shirts), $22 (long-sleeve) and $30 (hoodies/sweatshirts). Sizes 3XL and up add $3 extra for tee shirts, long-sleeve shirts and hoodies/sweatshirts.
Another area hero who passed away, the great 'Kutztown Komet' Freddy Adam, has been remembered with a photo spread in the event program and a tribute car displayed in Center Court at the mall.
To learn more about the Racing Legends Reunion & Car Show, log onto www.bdmotorsportsmedia.com or e-mail Brett Deyo at Deyo99H@aol.com. BD Motorsports Media LLC is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BDMotorsportsMedia and Twitter @BrettDeyo.