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District Cars: New week, same story -- Rain wins

Sunday, September 28, 2003

By Chris Dolack, Special to the Post-Gazette

Although the checkered flag has not fallen on the 2003 racing season in Western Pennsylvania, the flagman has it in his hand.

The big winner this past season wasn't John Flinner or Rick Miller or Al Atallah. Sure, they were the late model champions at Lernerville Speedway, Motordrome Speedway and Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway, but Mother Nature stole the show this year. Even when it didn't rain, the mere threat of it often kept fans from the track. In the first three months of the season, racing programs were adversely affected by rain more than 40 percent of the time.

Red Miley said it was the worst season for weather he has seen in his 15 years of operating PPMS. He got a double dose this year, too. Miley, who had great weather for the 15th annual Pittsburgher 100 last weekend, was supposed to wrap up his second season as owner of NASCAR-sanctioned Motordrome Speedway last night with a Sunoco Super Series event. Inclement weather prevented that from happening. The race, which was to include some top American Speed Association drivers, might be rescheduled.

Latrobe Speedway also cancelled its final night of points racing and crowned Mel Minnick (late models), Dougie Glessner (e-mods), Jeff Detwiler (street stocks), Dennis Aukerman (street stocks) and Brian Walker (micro sprints) as champions. Latrobe will conclude its racing program Saturday with a 100-lap, $1,000-to-win Enduro for rear-wheel-drive cars with a full frame. Front-wheel-drive cars will compete in a 50-lap Enduro that will pay $500.

Mercer Raceway Park delayed The Mudslinger until today. The event features twin 25-lap races for dirt late models, as well as features for 360 sprints, stock cars and the third annual Mel Myers Memorial e-mod race.

Still going

Racing will continue with a couple of big events in October.

At Jennerstown Speedway Saturday is the Hooters Pro-Cup Series' Charlie Campbell Memorial Miller Lite 250, the second of its five Championship races. Shane Huffman won the $11,000 first leg last week at Winchester Speedway in Indiana. After Jennerstown, the chase for the trophy goes to Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Jefferson, Ga.; and Lakeland, Fla. Go to for more information.

The Challenger Raceway in Jacksonville, Indiana County, will be the site of the ninth Fall Fest program. Racing and practice begins Oct. 10 and concludes Oct. 12 with a Mid Atlantic Championship Series-sanctioned 75-lap feature for late models worth $15,000 to the winner. Go to for more information.

The champions

With points racing over, here are the champions at several local speedways:

Lernerville Speedway crowned John Flinner (late models), Ed Lynch Jr. (sprints), Brian Swartzlander (modifieds) and Joe Kelley (pure stocks).

PPMS champions are Al Atallah (late models), Scott Gunn (limited late models), Darryl Robison (pure stocks), Wayne Tessean (e-mods) and Bill Robertson (amateur stocks).

Motordome Speedway's champions are Rick Miller (late models), Jim Nicola (modifieds), Greg Kelley (pro trucks), Todd Knight (street stocks) and Dave McManus (Chargers).

Jennerstown Speedway's champions are Barry Awtey (late models), Todd Price (pro trucks), Mike Bakalon (modifieds), Dink Colarusso (street stocks), P.J. Ehrlich (Legacy Series) and Greg Praysner (Chargers). Jennerstown is discontinuing the pro truck and modified divisions in 2004.

Cavalcade points

There are still two battles going for #1 Cochran Cavalcade point titles. In the late model division, Ron Davies leads the way but early leader Dick Barton has four top-three finishes in September and is only seven points behind. Barton still has races at Stateline Speedway and Fall Fest at Challenger.

The race for the stock car title is a three-way battle between Darrell Bossard, Gary Norman and Bobby Whitling. Bossard and Norman are tied with 59 points with Whitling at 58 points. Defending champion Joe Kelley is in sixth place, only 11 points behind Bossard and Norman. This title will also be decided in Fall Fest races at Challenger.

Chris Dolack is the senior writer of Auto Racing Digest magazine. He can be contacted at

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