Newmanstown, Pa. - "The Hornet", Jeff Halligan, buzzed to his first 600cc victory of the season on Saturday night at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
The recent Ephrata High School graduate notched the win in a very special event, as the Lanco club paid tribute to its former track photographer of many years, the late Dick Greenawalt, who passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly on July 5, 2011.
Others who registered wins in Saturday's Greenawalt Memorial included Mike Rutherford (270cc Two-Stroke); Jesse Maurer (125cc); Mark Ludwig (Sportsman); and Craig DeSantis (270cc Four-Stroke).
Saturday's event was the final tune up for the 600cc and 270cc Two-Stroke competitors before this weekend's two-day blockbuster - 600cc Micromania and the 270cc Clash at the Clyde, set for Saturday, June 30 and Sunday, July 1. All of the details surrounding this high paying, all star caliber event are available by logging on to www.lancomicrosprint.com. The 600cc portions on both Saturday and Sunday will award points toward the PA 600 Speedweek Series that kicks off at the Clyde this weekend.
Jered Hook led the early laps of Saturday's 600cc Greenawalt Memorial, with Halligan moving into the runner-up spot after Chris Gerhart lost his left-front wheel with six tours completed.
A terrific three car battle ensued for the third position between Jeff Stelter, Heath Hehnly, and Mike Rutherford, with the trio blasting around the banked oval in three-wide formation at times. Hehnly finally went to the wall with ten to go, accelerating around Stelter to grab third place.
It wasn't long after that Halligan planted his No. 45H under race leader Jered Hook, forging ahead as they hit the backstretch on lap 17. A few circuits later, Rutherford passed Hehnly for third, then wrestled second away from Hook with two trips remaining.
The final caution appeared with only one lap left to run, giving Rutherford a shot at Halligan. "I know he tries to snooker people on restarts, and he's really good at it," said Halligan afterward. "I just concentrated on holding my line and doing what I needed to do, and it worked out."
Halligan, who intends to major in Accounting at Elizabethtown College in the fall, held off Rutherford's challenge on the final lap to win by 0.146-seconds.
Jered Hook, Heath Hehnly, and 20th starting Brent Ely completed the top five.
Jered Hook earned the Weld Racing Fast Lap of the Feature Award, scorching the oval in 11.357 seconds to record the quickest time of the 25-lap main event.
Shaun Brandel, Ryan Hook, Chris Gerhart, and Jered Hook were victorious in 600cc heat races on Saturday, as 41 cars signed in for action. Kory Merkey and Tyler Esh captured the two consolation races.
The 270cc Two-Stroke feature began with a nine-car pile up in turns three and four. On the second attempt to get the race started, Dave Grube jumped from the pole position to lead with Jason Swavely darting past Brian Sholley for second.
Swavely dashed under Grube on the backstretch, then squeezed up in front of the No. 3d to take the lead. Momentum carried both cars up the banking in turns three and four and into the marbles at the top of the track, causing Grube to spin while Swavely managed to continue as the leader.
Eighth-starting Mike Rutherford, bidding for his second consecutive 270cc triumph, was threading a path to the front. He needed several laps to dispose of Sholley, who was running a strong second to Swavely during the middle stages of the race.
Once he gained the runner-up slot, Rutherford zeroed in on Swavely, but it appeared he might run out of time before he could make the winning pass. As the duo headed for the white flag, Rutherford shoved the nose of his Kaylor Petro No. 5k under Swavely's No. 14 in three and four. They made slight contact, with Swavely staying in front until his mount suddenly slowed on the homestretch as Rutherford flashed by him to take command.
"I think Jason burned off of four," explained Rutherford in victory lane, "and that's a shame because he was really good tonight. But I've lost plenty of races that way, too...that's just the way it goes sometimes."
Rutherford, the Lititz resident, notched his second in a row and fourth overall in 270cc competition at the Clyde, winning by slightly more than one second over Sholley. Richie Hartman, Jesse Maurer, and Pete Skias finished third through fifth.
With 31 cars entered in the 270cc Two-Stroke portion of the Greenawalt Memorial, heat races were won by Maurer, Sholley, and Swavely. The consolation went to Mike Uhrich.
The main event for the 125cc Class provided all sorts of drama, and it ended with reigning track champion Jesse Maurer recording his first win of the season in this division. The outcome was much more disappointing for a few others, though, as a five-race win streak was stopped and another driver's run of hard luck continued - after he apparently won the race.
Richie Hartman had won five consecutive 125cc features, but he was involved in an early tangle and had to go to the rear of the 20-car field.
Kory Merkey started third, but leap-frogged to the lead on the opening lap. Merkey, from Manheim, has been fast all year long but mechanical gremlins and just plain lousy luck have plagued his efforts.
The Greenawalt Memorial seemed to be the tonic that would shed his bad luck, though, as Merkey led all the way to score the apparent victory - a close one over Maurer and Hartman, who charged from the back of the pack to make things even more interesting.
Unfortunately for Merkey, his No. 88 came up just a bit light at the scale after the 25-lapper, handing the victory to Maurer.
While Merkey was out front, the action behind him was fantastic, as Maurer, Ken Miller, Darren Miller, Dave Grube, and Shane Braxton swapped positions and battled ferociously for the second through sixth positions.
When everything was sorted out at the end, it was Mount Joy's Jesse Maurer who claimed the victory with Hartman finishing second and Grube earning third place money. Ken Miller and Braxton rounded out the top five.
Twenty-two cars took part in the 125cc activity on Saturday, with Braxton and Chris Gerhart winning the heat races.
A wildly entertaining Sportsman feature saw Mark Ludwig, Ephrata, snare his first triumph of the year. Ludwig started tenth, made a daring three-wide pass to secure third place, then ducked under Sheena Logeman for the runner-up spot with four to go. Ludwig inherited the race lead when Jason Swavely - for the second time on Saturday - broke while leading the main event. This time, Jason's No. 7c fell victim to mechanical issues with three laps remaining, handing Ludwig the lead and the win.
An incredible, improbable incident may have played a role in Swavely's demise in the Sportsman main. Kerry Lengle set the pace from lap three through the 20th circuit, until he caught an infield tire marker in turn four, throwing his No. 81 into a spin. As Lengle's car turned around, he was slammed by second-running Swavely, whose path was suddenly blocked by the spinning leader.
Amazingly, Swavely never stopped, continuing on as the new leader after the impact knocked Lengle out of the race. While there was no readily evident damage to Swavely's mount, the hard impact with Lengle certainly could have led to Swavely's breakdown a few laps after the incident.
Ludwig raced to the victory, with Sheena Logeman finishing second. Ken Miller, who took the initial green from 17th position, rebounded from an early spin to finish third. Bobby Shanaman and Wesley Fasnacht wound up fourth and fifth, respectively.
Twenty Sportsman teams entered the Greenawalt Memorial, with heats going to Fasnacht and Swavely.
After an early season filled with second and third place finishes, veteran Craig DeSantis, from Lititz, finally found his way to the winner's circle on Saturday.
"Dick was a good friend, and it's an honor to win his Memorial Race," said DeSantis as he related what it meant to him to win the 270cc Four-Stroke Greenawalt Memorial feature.
As Lewis Kepple, Jr. raced out front, some excellent racing was taking place behind his No. 16. Donna Geib, Eddie Nocera, DeSantis, Ryan Morris, and five-time winner Chip Geib dueled for position for several laps before DeSantis eventually secured the runner-up slot and began his assault on the leader.
DeSantis stormed past Kepple for the top spot, and it wasn't long before Chip Geib motored into second. By the time he got there, though, DeSantis had checked out, opening a big lead.
Ryan Morris, who snapped Chip Geib's winning streak the week prior, spun off the fourth turn in the first half of the 25-lapper. Morris charged back through the field, taking third place, then tried his best to catch the cars in front of him as the leaders dealt with lapped traffic.
DeSantis' margin of victory was 0.318 seconds over C. Geib, with Morris having to settle for third. Nocera and Kepple completed the top five.
Heats for the 14 cars went to Morris and DeSantis.
All five main events were highlighted by some drama and outstanding action, making the first Dick Greenawalt Memorial a resounding success. Greenawalt's wife, Carol, along with his son, Lee, and Lee's wife, Margaret, were on hand to celebrate with the winning drivers. A special program book and commemorative t-shirt were sold to mark the occasion.
The stage is now set for this weekend's Micromania for the 600's and the 270 Clash at the Clyde. On Saturday, the Prelude to the Mania and the Flash before the Clash will begin with warm-ups at 5:45 p.m. Gates open at 3:00, with a driver's meeting at 5:30. The first heat race goes green at 6:30.
On Sunday, the gates will open at 2 p.m (Note: breakfast will be served at the track from 8 a.m. until noon). The driver's meeting begins when the pill draw ends at 4:30. Warm-ups get underway at 4:45 and the first heat race will take the green at 5:30.
Pit passes will cost $30 per day. Spectator tickets are $10 per day for adults; the cost for Senior Citizens and Students is $6 per day. Youth between the ages of six and twelve will be admitted for $2 per day, and children under the age of six are free.
The early entry deadline is Monday, June 25, but entries for both classes, and for both days, will be accepted until race time each day.
For additional information on this colossal weekend of high speed adventure and wheel-to-wheel, clay tossing competition, go to the track's website at www.lancomicrosprint.com.
Results of the Dick Greenawalt Memorial Race at
Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway on June 23:
600cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Jeff Halligan, 2.Mike Rutherford, 3.Jered Hook, 4.Heath Hehnly, 5.Brent Ely, 6.Shane Lewis, 7.Jeff Stelter, 8.Tim Buckwalter, 9.Scott Smith, 10.A.J. Michael, 11.Christopher Tracy, 12.James Morris, 13.Tyler Esh, 14.Mike Dicely, 15.Brittany Brown, 16.Sam LaMothe, 17.Tyler Walton, 18.Shaun Brandel, 19.Ryan Hook, 20.Tony DiMattia, 21.Chris Gerhart, 22.Tom Kohler, 23.Kory Merkey, 24.Jessica Mohler.
270cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Mike Rutherford, 2.Brian Sholley, 3.Richie Hartman, 4.Jess Maurer, 5.Pete Skias, 6.Ryan Morris, 7.Nick Skias, 8.Heath Hehnly, 9.Dave Grube, 10.Billy Logeman, 11.Christi Sweigart, 12.Dan Lane Jr., 13.Jason Swavely, 14.Mike Uhrich, 15.Nate Weidman, 16.Kevin Kopp, 17.Tyler Reinhardt, 18.Mike Skias, 19.Ricky Sechrist Jr., 20.Chip Geib, 21.Brad Kemp, 22.Rebecca LaMothe, 23.Justin Harrington, 24.Ryan Gabers.
125cc Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Jesse Maurer, 2.Richie Hartman, 3.Dave Grube, 4.Ken Miller, 5.Shane Braxton, 6.Darren Miller, 7.Brent Shearer, 8.Derek Ecenrode, 9.Jason Rhoads, 10.Felisha Kirlin, 11.Kyle Hehnly, 12.Nick Sweigart, 13.Dylan Adams, 14.Zack Hollinger, 15.Walter Wampole, 16.Brie Weiler, 17.Jimmy Wampole, 18.Chris Gerhart, 19.Bradley Brown. DNS: Danny Braun Jr.; Austin Emerson. DQ: Kory Merkey.
Sportsman Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Mark Ludwig, 2.Sheena Logeman, 3.Ken Miller, 4.Robert Shanaman, 5.Wesley Fasnacht, 6.Matt Abers, 7.Dave Kemp, 8.Curtis R. Miller, 9.Dean Spangler, Jr., 10.Corey Schmuck Jr., 11.Kelby Stauffer, 12. Tim Ziegler, 13.Jenna Heagy, 14.Dennis Fenstermacher, 15.Jason Swavely, 16.Kerry Lengle, 17.Bret Habecker, 18.Jeff Hughes, 19.Vincent Malcom Jr.
270cc Four-Stroke Micro-Sprint Feature, 25 laps: 1.Craig DeSantis, 2.Chip Geib, 3.Ryan Morris, 4.Eddie Nocera, 5.Lewis Kepple Jr., 6.Donna Geib, 7.Kim Enck, 8.Kenny Miller III, 9.Greg Schmuck, 10.Earl Eveland, 11.Ronald Good, 12.Steve Smith Sr., 13.Sheila Fetter, 14.Kory Shissler.