(LEHIGHTON, Pa. 4-19-16) On Opening Night this past Saturday at Lehighton’s Mahoning Valley Speedway, race fans got a sampling of what to expect when the Ferris Mowers Race of Champions (RoC) Asphalt Modified Series Tour Fueled by Sunoco opens its 2016 season at the paved ¼-mile oval this coming Saturday evening for the “Break-The-Ice-75.”
In a classic battle, Mahoning’s Eric Beers held off reigning RoC champion Matt Hirschman right down to the wire. Don Wagner, Kris Graver and Chuck Hossfeld competed the top five. That, along with a varied mix of track regulars and several RoC drivers who came to get a feel for Mahoning in preparation for the upcoming 75-lap/$2800-to-win main, gave fans a good taste of what will be pit area filled with one Modified star after another.
The original opener with the RoC was set for April 9 but weather postponed those plans to this weekend. Beers noted how that gave him and everyone else the extra time to ready themselves for what looks to be quite the battle in the Break-The-Ice-75.
“It was good to have a tune-up for all of us and work all the bugs out of the cars. I think just looking at the guys you had here coming to get ready for next week, Matt (Hirschman) don’t usually come here for a regular show plus you had Chuck Hossfeld here, Anthony Sesely was here and host of other guys,” said Beers. “It’s going to be a heck of show.”
Beers feels that this will be a race that favors someone who has a familiarity with the track. It showed this past Saturday between Hirschman and he who ironically are tied for most wins in extra distance events at Mahoning with 11 each and a combined 60 total.
“All the guys who have laps here, it’s definitely an advantage for them. The outsider guys that haven’t come here or raced often it will be a little tougher on them,” admitted Beers.
“But those RoC guys are nothing to shake a stick at. They’re tough and they’ll get accustomed to it pretty fast and it’s going to be a great show I guarantee.”
Hirschman, Hossfeld, Tony Hanbury, John Wilbur, Mike Leaty, Jimmy Zacharias and host of other standouts from the RoC are all looking to start out their year on the Tour with a Mahoning victory.
“I’m looking forward to coming in and racing with those (Mahoning) guys. There are some good racers there like Eric Beers, Earl Paules, Austin Kochenash and a bunch of others. The bottom line is the competition is real good and the track lends itself to good racing,” said Hossfeld.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if you had one of the regular Saturday night home track guys win the race. What’s great about it is the racing is so good there and I’m sure the hometown guys will be strong. The top RoC guys will be strong too and it should make for a fun and exciting race.”
While the winner of the Break-The-Ice-75 will earn $2800, there is $1500 for second and $200 to take the green. 26 cars will qualify for the feature. All others, provided there are 40 Modified cars signed in, will then compete an $800 to win 30-lap B-main.
Also on the card will be point events for the Late Models, Street Stocks and Hobby Stocks. The All-Start Slingshots are also on the slate. The Dirt Mods and Pro 4s have the night off.
Travis Fisher won the Late Model opener, his first Mahoning win since 2008. Defending Street Stock champ Zach Graver scored the 30-lap verdict. Last week saw 30 Street Stocks in action. Sam Ryan won a barnburner over Rich Mutarelli in the Hobby Stocks. That class brought 24 cars to the track so look for much of the same there as well.
Pit gates will open at 11:00 am. From 12:30 – 3:00 there will be early paid practice ($25 per car). Sign-ins are from 2:30 – 4:15. Regular warmups start at 4:00. Heats begin at 6:00.
Adult general admission is $25. There is a $2 discount for students, seniors 65 and over and active Military. Kids 10 and under are admitted free.
The Modified competition format for the Break-The-Ice-75 can be found on the track’s website and the Race of Champions website.