Northern, Western state-by-state superlatives
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com managing editor
Dirt Late Model racing’s 2012 superlatives of the United states (individually for states with at least five weekly Late Model tracks; other states combined), primarily focusing on local and regional events:
Top performer: Jamie Lathroum of Mechanicsville, Md., won four big specials, including a career-high $20,000 in the Lucas Oil-sanctioned USA 100 at Virginia Motor Speedway. He also won the Appalachian Mountain Speedweek opener at Hagerstown and a pair of Three State Flyers events at Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex in Markleysburg, Pa. Lathroum finished the year ranked 23rd in DirtonDirt.com’s Top 25 rankings. | Best of 2012 coverage index
Best national driver: Seaford, Del.’s Austin Hubbard went winless, but scored runner-up finishes in Lucas Oil action at East Bay, World of Outlaws action at Delaware International Speedway and the Winchester 200 finale. He split time between Tim Logan’s car (early in the season), his family equipment and the Ernie Davis-owned No. 25.
Best regional drivers: Jamie Lathroum; Forest, Va.’s Walker Arthur (career-high $10,000 victories at Natural Bridge and N.C.’s County Line); Waynesboro, Va.’s Joe Leavell (14 victories in 32 starts matched his career-best and included series-high five on Steel Block Bandits tour); Seaford, Del.’s Ricky Elliott (eight victories between DIS and Georgetown, including $5,000 Delaware State Championship); Winchester, Va.’s J.T. Spence (seven victories at Winchester, Hagerstown, Williams Grove in only 11 starts); Bland, Va.’s Kennie Compton Jr. (four victories, including $10,000 at Green Valley; fifth in Southern Nationals points).
Best weekly drivers: Millsboro, Del.’s Donald Lingo Jr. (six victories between DIS, Georgetown); Waynesboro, Va.’s Greg Roberson (seven victories between Eastside and Natural Bridge); Waldorf, Md.’s Kenny Moreland (five victories among Hagerstown, Winchester and Potomac, where he won title); Millsboro, Del.’s Kenny Pettyjohn (three victories between DIS, Winchester en route to Winchester championship); Rural Retreat, Va.’s Kenny Peeples Jr. (winningest Wythe driver en route to track’s Crate title); Winchester, Va.’s Brad Ritter (five victories en route to Winchester’s Limited title); Millsboro, Del.’s Donald Lingo Jr. (four victories en route to DIS crown); Chester’s Scott Adams (three victories en route to third straight VMS title).
Best homegrown performance: Milton, Del.’s Mark Pettyjohn scores career-high $8,000 payday at Winchester’s Raye Vest Memorial.
Most improved drivers: Walker Arthur and Joey Leavell.
Best newcomers: Kenny Moreland (moves to Supers from Limiteds; $3,000 Red Nininger Memorial winner at Hagerstown); Winchester, Va.’s Trever Feathers (moved to Supers from Limiteds and finished third in Winchester points, scoring a June 9 victory).
Most memorable moment: Jamie Lathroum takes the lead as Steve Francis spins at Virginia Motor Speedway to his first Lucas Oil Series victory.
Biggest news: Long-time Rick Eckert team owner Raye Vest of White Plains, Md., posthumously inducted into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame. ... Frank Sagi, known by generations of fans as the legendary announcer of Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway, died in April. He was 78. ... Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., abandons his chase of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Rookie of the Year honors in July. ... Natural Bridge (Va.) Speedway’s Sunoco Fall Classic pays $10,000-to-win for first time in 12 years. ... Ernie Jones of Westminster, Md., who worked alongside brother Rick at Oval Track Productions at several tracks, dies Feb. 29 after a battle with cancer. He was 60. … Virginia Motor Speedway puts Lucas Oil-sanctioned Commonwealth 100 and USA 100 on hold for 2013, citing economic issues and plans to focus on weekly racing.
New York-New Jersey
Top performer: Watertown, N.Y.’s Tim McCreadie endured a season of hot streaks and slumps, ending with eight Late Model victories (with an additional four big-block modified triumphs). He was fourth in World of Outlaws points with three victories and 14 top-five finishes in 40 starts. McCreadie peaked at No. 4 in the DirtonDirt.com rankings in June but finished the season unranked.
Best national drivers: Tim McCreadie; Caledonia, N.Y.’s Vic Coffey (eight in WoO points with six top-five finishes) Watertown, N.Y.’s Tim Fuller (ninth in WoO points; $10,000 victory in ULMS finale at Hesston, Pa.).
Best regional drivers: Ripley’s Mike Knight (five victories in 29 starts; three with ULMS; Eriez champion); Central Square, N.Y.’s Dale Caswell (Go Nuclear Crate title with three series victories; Can-Am track title); Bemus Point, N.Y.’s Chad Ruhlman (third in Fastrak Northeast points; wins series finale); Wellsville, N.Y.’s Bruce Miller (BRP CanAm Series champ).
Best weekly drivers: Phoenix, N.Y.’s Larry Wight (seven victories, 13 top-fives en route to Fulton Crate title); Clay’s Tim Sears Jr. (four victories between Fulton and Can-Am); Ashville’s Dick Barton (third in Stateline points); Wall, N.J.’s Rob Ormsbee (17 victories en route to Fastrak-sanctioned Crate title at New Egypt).
Best homegrown performance: Mike Knight’s stirring runner-up finish in Lucas Oil action at Stateline.
Most improved driver: Larry Wight.
Best newcomer: Freedom, N.Y.’s Zack Carley (son of long-time racer Ed Carley) won his first Crate Late Model feature at Humberstone Speedway and was Rookie of the Year at Stateline Speedway.
Most memorable moment: John Blankenship turns back a late challenge from home-stater Mike Knight for a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory at Stateline Speedway in Busti, N.Y.
Biggest news: Kennedy Motorsports becomes title sponsor of United Late Model Series. ... After scaling back his own team, Watertown, N.Y.’s Tim Fuller joins Kennedy Motorsports.
Top performer: Loudonville's George Lee had a breakout season with 11 victories between NAPA Wayne County and Hilltop Speedways, including $3,000 and $5,000 victories at Hilltop.
Best national driver: After solid Speedweeks, Dresden’s Donnie Moran posted victories at Muskingum County and Midway along with ADRA victories at Muskingum and West Virginia Motor Speedway.
Best regional drivers: Weston’s Rusty Schlenk (three ALMS victories and 13 UMP DIRTcar victories overall); Whitehouse’s Matt Miller (two ALMS victories and winner of Oakshade’s Barney Oldfield Memorial in Rick DeLong’s car); Wooster’s Doug Drown (six victories after joining Weekley Racing in June, including ADRA victory at Jackson County); Ada’s Jon Henry (five victories and ninth in UMP DIRTcar Summernationals points)
Best weekly drivers: George Lee; Coolville’s Andy Bond (victories at Ohio Valley, Skyline en route to runner-up AMRA finish); Nashport’s Shane McLoughlin (Wayne County champ had victories at Wayne County and Hilltop); Jackson’s Greggie Oliver (four Jackson County victories and track title); Dresden’s Devin Moran (Australian success coupled with five victories between Hilltop, Muskingum County); Wheelersburg’s Rod and R.J. Conley (three victories apiece; ADRA title for Rod).
Best homegrown performance: Racing without a crew, Jon Henry wins at Spoon River Speedway in Banner, Ill., for his first career UMP DIRTcar Summernationals victory.
Most improved driver: New Concord’s Weston Hutchison won at Wayne County and Hilltop and topped the points in Midway’s shortened season.
Best newcomers: Winchester’s Nick Latham, grandson of legendary driver Ralph Latham, competed regularly at Brushcreek and Florence.
Most memorable moment: With a stirring high-side charge, 70-year-old Delmas Conley brought the Portsmouth crowd to its feet with a consolation race victory at the Lucas Oil-sanctioned Dirt Track World Championship.
Biggest news: Eldora Speedway tweaks formats for Dream, World 100, announces three-day schedules for 2013. ... Eldora also will run first-ever NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event next season. ... Portsmouth Raceway Park hosts Dirt Track World Championship for first time. ... Atomic Speedway (formerly K-C Raceway) sits dormant. ... Long-time Gibsonburg racer Bill Hahn dies in January. He was 66. ... Long-time official and announcer Bret Emrick to be inducted into National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame in 2013. ... Cannonball Motor Speedway reopens, but closes nearly as quickly. ... Former Wayne County Speedway owner Ernie Coffman dies in September. He was 62. ... Midway reopened under new management, only to shut the gates in July. ... Longtime Saturday night stalwart Muskingum County Speedway switched to Fridays at the start of the season, then reverted to Saturdays in July. ... Jackson County Speedway owner Brad McCown announces track is for sale or lease for 2013 ... Marietta's Legendary Hilltop Speedway reopened late in season and hosted two steel block Late Model shows.
Top performer: York’s Rick Eckert won five World of Outlaws Late Model Series features en route to a second-place finish in WoO points. His seven victories overall include a streak of four in a row from Oct. 4-12 at Rolling Wheels, Selinsgrove, Charlotte and Hesston. Eckert was one of 10 drivers ranked among the DirtonDirt.com Top 25 all season, finishing the year ranked seventh.
Best national drivers: Rick Eckert; Bear Lake’s Chub Frank (fifth in WoO points; two weekly Lernerville wins, but none on WoO circuit).
Best regional drivers: Rochester Mills’s Gregg Satterlee (breakout season with 12 victories overall, Three State Flyers title and career high $10,000 payday at UFO-sanctioned Pittsburgher); Centerville’s Max Blair (34 victories overall, Fastrak Northeast Champ and $22,000 Fastrak World Championship victory); York Haven’s Jason Covert (eight victories overall with $5,000 wins at Elkins, Bedford); South Park’s Jared Miley (10 victories, including $4,000 at Tyler County and $5,000 at PPMS Red Miley Rumble); Lewistown’s Nick Dickson (three $5,000 victories at three tracks — Winchester, Hesston, Selinsgrove — and titles at Hagerstown, Hesston); Thompson’s Dan Stone (WoO prelim winner at Lernerville’s Firecracker 100); Waterford’s Dave Hess Jr. (eight victories at four tracks including ULMS triumph at McKean).
Best weekly drivers: Danville’s Jeff Rine (nine victories between Selinsgrove, Bedford; captures eighth Selinsgrove title); Charleroi’s Sammy Stile (double-digit victory season at Marion Center and Dog Hollow); Dover’s Gene Knaub (another year of double-digit victories with two Steel Block Bandits wins at Susquehanna and Williams Grove title); Hyndman’s D.J. Troutman (six victories among Thunder Valley, Bedford and Allegany County, where he won title); Warren’s Dutch Davies (five victories, including ULMS triumph, en route to title at New York’s Stateline Speedway; Waterford’s Steve Kania (six victories in route to Limited title at Eriez); Sarver’s Michael Norris (four victories between Pittsburgh, Lernerville; PPMS champion).
Best homegrown performances: Rallying from the tail after being involved in an early caution, 15th-starting Nick Dickson earned $5,100 for a June 10 Three State Flyers victory at Hesston. ... Sammy Stile scored back-to-back Crate (Fastrak at Sharon) and Super (ULMS at McKean) victories July 21-22. ... Coleby Frye records first-ever sub 19-second lap at Port Royal on June 16. ... Rick Eckert lowers Selinsgrove track record to 18.848.
Most improved drivers: Herndon’s Brett Schadel (never previously a winner at Port Royal, he won three times including finale, but finished five points behind champ Tim Wilson); Hamburg’s Andy Haus (notched first career victory at Bedford, added win at Port Royal); Butler’s Garrett Krummert (former sprint and big-block mod driver sweeps April 7-8 Late Model event at Attica, Ohio); Shippensburg’s Jerry Bard ($2,500 victory at Hagerstown, richest of career).
Best newcomer: Sharpsville’s Will Thomas III, an asphalt convert who won the Sharon Speedway title in his first full season of Crate Late Models. He won Fastrak Northeast events at Expo and Mercer.
Most memorable moment: Dan Stone turns back a late challenge from Scott Bloomquist in a Firecracker 100 semifeature at Lernerville Speedway one night before Bloomquist’s $30,000 victory over Darrell Lanigan during Sarver’s rich weekend.
Biggest news: Sinking Springs’s Kenny Brightbill inducted into National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame. ... Seven-time Bedford champion Jack Pencil announces retirement after 24 years. ... Clearfield’s Jim Butler, a long-time Dirt Late Model photographer and vendor, dies in early July after complications from a recent surgery. He was 65. ... Marion Center Speedway owner David Howard Potts dies June 13. He was 87. ... Marion Center’s Floyd Kline, a long-time Pennsylvania dirt racer, dies in Aug. 28 motorcycle accident. He was 56. ... Bedford boosts weekly Super Late Model purse to $1,400-to-win (up from $1,200). ... Garland’s David Scott misses action after breaking wrist in May 6 accident at Eriez. ... Hesston offers $5,000 title for six special events (won by Nick Dickson). ... April back surgery delays start to season for Waterford’s Dave Hess Jr. ... Pittsburgh’s Josh Holtgraver, 23, misses early action with broken legs. ... Reynoldsville’s John Reed misses first half of Hummingbird season for cancer treatment. ... Long-time Coleby Frye Motorsports crew member Butch “The Milkman” Metzel dies in March at 69.
Top performer: Williamson’s John Blankenship scored a career-high three Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victories at Wythe, Stateline and Rome. Also earned $10,000 Florida Speedweeks victory at Volusia and runner-up finishes in Eldora’s Dream and Wheatland’s Show-Me 100.
Best national drivers: John Blankenship; Shinnston’s Josh Richards (racing part-time on dirt, won WoO events at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., and Michigan’s Merritt Raceway).
Best regional drivers: Salt Rock’s Eddie Carrier Jr. (10 victories, including $10,000 at Southern Ohio; pair of top-10 finishes at Eldora); Charleston’s Zack Dohm ($10,000 Black Gold 50 victory at Beckley along with Ohio victories at Midway for $5,000 and Wayne County for $4,000); Fairmont’s Jacob Hawkins ($4,000 at Tyler and victories at Ohio Valley, Elkins); Fairmont’s Jared Hawkins (five victories among Elkins, Cannonball, Roaring Knob).
Best weekly drivers: Chris Garnes (18 victories en route to AMRA title; World of Outlaws victory at I-77); Tyler Mountain’s Harold Redman Jr. (double-digit victories at four tracks; fourth in AMRA points); Beckley’s Aaron Barley (17 victories in 27 starts at Beckley and Thunder Mountain, where he won title); West Union’s Butch McGill (victories at Elkins and Tyler County, where he nabbed third title); Elkins’s Tim Senic (second straight Elkins title, three Roaring Knob victories and five victories in 18 starts in non-specials); Pennsboro’s Kyle Thomas (six victories, 28 top-fives in 30 starts and Elkins Crate title); Morgantown’s Daniel Hill (six victories in 19 Crate starts; Tyler County champ); Beckley’s Mike Faykus Jr. (Crate champ at Beckley); Clarksburg’s Paul Wilmoth Jr. ($7,500 victory in Skidmore Memorial at Elkins).
Best homegrown performance: Garnes shocks World of Outlaws with career-high $10,000 WoO victory at I-77 Raceway Park.
Most improved driver: Crab Orchard’s Chris Meadows (four Fastrak Crate specials at Thunder Mountain, Beckley, including $5,000 Weekly World Challenge; also four AMRA Super Late Model victories at Beckley).
Best newcomers: Beckley’s Tyler Cox (16-year-old scored Thunder Mountain Crate victory; third in Beckley points); Gilbert’s Dallas Hatfield (third in Crate points at Thunder Mountain).
Most memorable moment: After starting on the tail, Mike Marlar overtakes Don O’Neal on lap 77 en route to a $25,000 Hillbilly 100 victory at I-77.
Biggest news: Shinnston’s Josh Richards leaves Rocket Chassis house car to pursue NASCAR career. ... Starting in 2013, Vienna’s Steve Shaver will race for K&L Rumley Enterprises out of Bobby Labonte Racing’s Trinity, N.C., shop; driving in-house Longhorn Chassis. ... Fairmont’s Jared Hawkins ends two-year run with Bobby Lake Motorsports. ... Parkersburg’s Mike Balzano inducted into National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame. ... Shortened and reconfigured West Virginia Motor Speedway in Mineral Wells reopens for the first time in nearly two years with Donnie Moran winning ADRA race. ... Ruptured Achilles tendon delays start of Eddie Carrier Jr.’s season. ... Tyler County adds lucrative Jackpot 100 to Memorial Day weekend; Labor Day’s Black Diamond 125 is rained out and doesn’t appear on WoO’s 2013 schedule. ... I-77 Raceway Park hosts Hillbilly 100 for first time. ... Beckley hosts Fastrak’s World Championship weekend. ... Princeton Speedway opens briefly, closes again.
Top performer: Returning to home at midseason, Tucson, Ariz.’s R.C. Whitwell reeled off six straight Southwest Dirt Racing Association victories after returning from year-long stint for Missouri-based team. He caps his season with a $6,500 victory at his hometown track’s Carl Trimmer Classic.
Best national driver: Corning, Calif.’s Tyler Reddick (now racing out of DuQuoin, Ill.) finished eighth in Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series standings with four top-five finishes. At conclusion of dirt season, he notched his first asphalt victory Nov. 3 at Rockingham, N.C., on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
Best regional drivers: Las Cruces, N.M.’s Garrett Alberson (CLMA Southern champ, 14 victories in finishing second in DIRTcar’s Western region); Tangent, Ore.’s Trevor Glaser (six victories between Willamette, Cottage Grove; claims sixth Willamette title in eight years); Watsonville, Calif.’s Clay Daly (repeats West Coast Shootout, Santa Maria titles); Casper, Wyo.’s Jason Schierkolk (wins CLMA Northern crown and home-track title); Lebanon, Ore.’s Jason Wines (DAA Crate champ); Henderson, Colo.’s Scott Lewis (two CLMA victories).
Best weekly drivers: Morgan Hill, Calif.’s Jeff Decker (seven victories in repeating Petaluma championship); Las Cruces, N.M.’s Jimmy Ray (track champ at El Paso and Southern New Mexico); Gillette, Wyo.’s Eddie Kirchoff (Gillette championship includes two home-track CLMA victories); Live Oak, Calif.’s Matt Micheli (winningest Placerville driver captures track title); Great Falls, Mont.’s Chris Dunn (Electric City Speedway champ); Brighton, Colo.’s Jeff Meeker (I-76 Speedway champ).
Best homegrown performances: Clay Daly’s fourth-place finish in Tucson’s Wild West Shootout feature. ... El Segundo, Calif.’s Nick Bartels running the full UMP DIRTcar Summernationals tour, finishing 13th in points and posting a best finish of seventh. ... Bakersfield, Calif.’s John Lowrey career-high $5,000 at Santa Maria.
Most improved drivers: Nipomo, Calif.’s Jason Papich (Simkins Memorial winner; second in West Coast Shootout points and five top-five series finishes); Lebanon, Ore.’s Tony Brakeall (Cottage Grove-leading two victories; second in track points).
Best newcomers: Happy Valley, Ore.’s Justin Duty (14-year-old son of John Duty finishes sixth in Willamette points; Las Cruces, N.M.’s Bumper Jones (modified ace grabs Sept. 1 CLMA victory at Aztec (N.M.) Speedway).
Most memorable moment: Shane Clanton’s car veers off course after catching an infield tire barrier and slams the frontstretch wall in Tucson while leading third round of the Wild West Shootout.
Biggest news: Oregon’s Willamette Speedway undergoes massive refurbishment. ... Willamette’s Jerry Schram, who also operates Sunset Speedway, takes over operations of Cottage Grove (Ore.) Speedway in September. ... UMP DIRTcar plans Summernationals West for 2013. ... Wild West Shootout promoter Benji Lyons splits with USA Raceway (now Tucson International Raceway) and track owner Pat Robley after January’s miniseries. ... Robley and new promoter Jamie Throckmorton plan six-race Winter Extreme for January 2013. ... Lyons returns to Central Arizona Raceway in Casa Grande with plans to continue Wild West Shootout. .... Off-again, on-again Arizona-based SWDRA returns after Joey Moriarty’s Total Seal drops backing. ... Ruben and Katy Munoz take over promotions at Santa Maria (Calif.) Speedway from Chris Kearns, who promoted the track four seasons.
Top performer: Headlingley, Manitoba's Ricky Weiss had eight victories in 49 appearances and finished third in WISSOTA’s overall points. He won two Northern LateModel Racing Association races and finished second in NLRA points.
Best national driver: None.
Best regional drivers: Ricky Weiss; Blenheim, Ontario’s Andrew Reaume (ALMS victory at Oakshade, $2,000 at South Buxton, first World 100 start); Winnipeg, Manitoba’s Mike Balcaen (fifth in WISSOTA standings, third in NLRA; Red River Co-op Speedway championship was 35th title of career); Frankford, Ontario’s Greg Belyea (second in Go Nuclear Series points; five Brighton victories).
Best weekly drivers: Chatham, Ontario’s Brad Authier (seven victories at South Buxton; second in points); Edmonton, Alberta’s Dave Smith (winningest Castrol Raceway and track champ); Chatham, Ontario’s Gregg Haskell (three victories en route to South Buxton title); Ridgetown, Ontario’s Dale Glassford (five South Buxton victories); Picton, Ontario’s Corey Earl (four Brighton Speedway victory en route to Crate title); Fort Erie, Ontario’s Darren Peters (seven Crate victories at Humberstone.
Best homegrown performance: Andrew Reaume becomes first-ever Canadian starter in World 100, finishing 16th.
Most improved drivers: Gregg Haskell; Stevenson, Ontario’s Jorden Peters, 16, wins two races en route to Humberstone Speedway’s Fastrak Crate title.
Best newcomer: East St. Paul, Manitoba’s Shane Edginton finished second in WISSOTA rookie points and 24th overall. He notched an NLRA victory at Buffalo River Race Park in Glyndon, Minn.
Most memorable moment: Seven-year racer Gregg Haskell survives an early spin and rallies back at South Buxton Raceway for his first career UMP DIRTcar feature.
Biggest news: Ontario Dirt Late Model organization goes on hiatus after getting just one track to commit to a 2012 date. ... Mike Balcaen notches his milestone 200th career feature victory June 25. ... Kirk Hooker comes out of semi-retirement for June 2 victory at South Buxton in honor of long-time crew chief Brett "Mudd" Buchanan, who is moving to Alberta.
Capsule contributors: Jason Shank, Jody Shannon, Barry Lenhart, Dustin Jarrett, K.C. Rooney, Steve Curtis and Jason Reeves.