Most eyes are on Knoxville, Iowa, this evening where the final night of the Sprint Car Nationals are being held. Local drivers Cody Darrah, Stevie Smith and Greg Hodnett are in the A main. Joey Saldana and Brian Brown have the front row locked up by virtue of winning Wednesday and Thursday nights' qualifiers.
Brent Marks raced at Knoxville Wednesday night after flipping a car last Saturday at Port Royal. The team quickly built another car and went out the highway. Dan Dietrich and Jacob Allen also raced on Wednesday.
Locally, Williams Grove canceled Friday due to rain. Next Friday's show includes twin 20s and fireworks.
Port Royal Speedway will run 410 sprint cars, late models, 305 sprints and pro stocks tonight. It is also camera and autograph night. Warm ups start at 7. Next week is the Keith Kauffman farewell tribute with an oldest Kauffman T-shirt contest.
Lincoln Speedway will make up the rained out Brandon Little Memorial race tonight at 7:30. Selinsgrove Speedway's URC/358 Challenge race will be held. This is URC's second visit of the season.
Watkins Glen, N.Y., hosts the Sprint Cup series on the road course Sunday. ESPN has TV coverage starting at noon. Green flag is set for 1 p.m. Marcos Ambrose nudged out Brad Keselowski last year and is the defending race champion on the 2.45-mile track.
It was a tough week in auto racing. By now most of you know Palmyra's Kramer Williamson lost his life as the result of a sprint car accident that occurred last Saturday at Lincoln Speedway. I had a chance to speak with Alan Kreitzer, Lincoln promoter, several times this week. For anyone that has ever helped operate a race track, when tragedy strikes the telephone never stops ringing while dealing with matters at hand.
First let me say that while I mentioned some time ago during the Jason Leffler situation, I was concerned we were going to see someone die here in the midstate. Never once did I envision it would be at a smaller track like Lincoln. In fact, Lincoln hasn't had a fatality before last week in about 38 years when Steve Howard died. Kreitzer told me Williamson's accident was just a typical sprint car crash that had an unusual ending. Williamson ran over another competitor's right rear tire and crashed in turn two.
Kreitzer stressed some important things to me including Kramer's love of the sport, his fun-loving personality, skills as a respected car builder who supplied racers to other drivers.
"Kramer pretty much did it all," Kreitzer said. And did it his way. I first watched Williamson in his famous Pink Panther No. 73 when I went to Williams Grove Speedway back in the early 1970s. Even then his family supported his racing.
He won rookie of the year honors at several area tracks and scored a win in the Williams Grove National Open back when it was a 150 lap race in the 1970s. Williamson scored multiple track championships in the region and won against the World of Outlaws.
Later, Williamson raced regularly with the United Racing Co., where he was one of the most accomplished drivers in club history. In 2008 Williamson was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.
The outpouring of concern and sympathy was shown this week to Williamson's biggest fans, his family. He is survived by wife Sharon, son Kurt, daughter Felicia and brother George. I have had time to reflect on Williamson's passing and after speaking with Kreitzer I have concluded something all of us need to keep on mind. It may just be that when our time is up life is over. The big guy upstairs probably has the final time and we have to accept that and go on.
One more item to add to the Williamson story. Never have I seen a bigger outpouring of support for a family. Four area tracks and others outside our area will conduct fundraising activities on the family's behalf: Williams Grove, Port Royal, Lincoln and Selinsgrove plus other URC tracks including Delaware International Speedway already have memorial nights set. Selinsgrove has declared a pink out tonight with URC racing there.
And Tony Stewart broke his leg in another crash that didn't look that bad but Stewart was injured just the same. Stewart is likely done for the year but could possibly race late in the season. Don't look for Smoke to stay out of dirt track racing nor should he. He and other NASCAR drivers running dirt are helping reconnect fans to both types of racing and his successful truck show at Eldora is proof that NASCAR has a place in dirt racing. That also means their drivers should run in dirt races. Many car owners don't like that and that is one reason why Stewart bought his own race team so he could call his own shots.
I've heard some folks calling for NASCAR to prohibit their drivers from running dirt tracks this week and in my opinion that's a bunch of crap.
The PA Sports Network will visit the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing today where host Jed Donahue will interview retired star Lynn Paxton, Alan Kreitzer and others live starting at 10:30 a.m.
Hartrisburg racing writer Jeremy Elliott and driver Greg Hodnett will be on the program live from the Knoxville Nationals. WIEZ-AM 670 carries the program locally.
Until next week, please drive safely!
Craig Rutherford writes about motorsports for The Sentinel.