All posts by Michael Jaworecki

Matt Hirschman sweeps Freddy Hamm Tribute twin-45s at Mahoning Valley Speedway


Photo Walter Smith

(Lehighton, PA 6-25-22) Mahoning Valley Speedway celebrated the Freddy Hamm Tribute –

which was race #2 of the Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fame Series – with a pair of 45-lap Modified features and collecting both was Northampton’s Matt Hirschman.  

“Freddy was a class act, a real gentleman and respectful racer and that’s important to have that quality. It’s always great to win but to do it in the fashion that he did it was just a little bit better than most when you had the quality that he had,” offered Hirschman.

“Our families have always been friends but you would think you were best friends for life the way he treated and talked to you and I appreciate winning tonight just a little bit more.”

            In the first race Hirschman passed Lou Strohl after six laps and then began to cruise until late in the going when Zane Zeiner was closing fast but time ran out just as things began getting interesting.

            In the nightcap Hirschman had to work a bit harder before going to the front, needing 20 laps to get by leader Earl Paules but once he did he went into cruise control and sailed off to the win.

            By luck of the draw Strohl had the pole for the first race with Carl Altemose alongside on the front row. As the race began Strohl dashed to the early lead while Hirschman was quick to move into second.

            On lap four the first and what would be the only caution waved when Don Wagner slowed and then stopped to close to the racing line.

            When the field realigned for the restart Strohl again got out front but now had Hirschman, who was using the outside lane, stick beside him and within two laps the lead would change hands.

            The pace from then on was energetic as the race went nonstop to the end. Early on during that span Hirschman was looking unstoppable as he was making haste over the pack.

            However, behind him the action was very heated as Strohl had to fend off Austin Kochenash with Zeiner riding closely in fourth. That trio stayed tight for a number of laps until reaching mid-race. It was then that Zeiner began a thrust as he made quick work of Kochenash and then a few laps later did the same to Strohl.

            By then Hirschman was showing a two-and-a-half second lead but Zeiner was continuing to cut that deficit with each passing lap. There was also the factor of traffic which Hirschman was having to negotiate and for Zeiner that helped in his efforts to keep zeroing in.

“It was a big pack of cars and you weren’t going to pass just one and have clear sailing so I was cautious when I was catching the up on them,” said Hirschman.

            By the time the race was in the final laps Zeiner was a mere car length back but time ran out on his valiant effort and Hirschman held on for his second straight Mahoning win.

“I was able to get the lead from the outside of Lou (Strohl) and I kind of assumed he was still in second but I see it was Zane (Zeiner). We had it kind of easy with the draw and we’ll just see how the second race plays out,” Hirschman said.

After Zeiner it was Strohl, Kochenash and Kyle Strohl rounding out the top five.

“I was really hoping for a caution and when I got to Lou (Strohl) he kind of used me up and I just couldn’t get by him quick enough and I felt that had I been able to I could have maybe made Matt make a decision and put a little pressure on him,” expressed Zeiner.

For the second feature the top eight were inverted which gave the pole to Cody Kohler and Paules. After a false start Paules got the jump and led the early going over Kohler and K. Strohl. Six laps into the race K. Strohl had gained second spot. A few restarts afterwards and Paules and K. Strohl played cat and mouse when trying to resume, leading race director Randy Schlenker to issue warnings.

They did heed his directive and both made a clean start with Paules showing the way. Kochenash was sitting third at the time and just as he did in the first race was showing a lot of strength. Behind him though was Hirschman who after a few side-by-side laps was able to get by. He then proceeded to do the same to K. Strohl but his quest was paused when a caution halted the action on lap 17.

On that restart K. Strohl got out of shape and spun while cars from behind all scattered to get by. Once the field was regrouped Paules had to now deal with Hirschman and it didn’t take but two laps before the No. 60 was once again leading.          

Unlike the first feature this time there would be no cars closing in on him as he was all perfection, driving away to a good-sized distance over Paules. In third was a very impressive Carl Altemose who notched his best ever Modified finish. Kochenash and DeFebo, who both had to drive through the pack after making pit stops on lap 22 from a pile up on the front straight, rounded out the top five.

“Once we got out front I figured we were safe and I knew some of the competition was knocked out (from lap 22 wreck). It was a good clean night for us and it’s been a good season and we hope to keep it going,” explained Hirschman. 

            In the 30-lap Street Stock main Palmerton’s TJ Gursky continued his strong runs, winning the race which was his second of the year and fifth top five in as many starts. 

            Gursky was in the right place at the right time when he grabbed the lead on a lap five restart. At the time Stacey Brown and Randy Ahner Jr., where battling side-by-side and coming off Turn 2 they banged hard which nearly caused them to wreck as they went completely out to the racing line.

            With the bottom wide open Gursky quickly seized the opportunity and hastened into the lead. From then on he was spot on and took a two car length win over Jon Moser. Teammate Ahner Jr., rebounded to finish third with Todd Ahner fourth and Tommy Flanagan fifth. 

            Corey Edelman of Northampton continues to enjoy his best season in years as he won for a second straight time and fourth in the past seven races.

            A very improved Dave Imler Jr., got out front early on and looked solid in leading for the first time ever. On lap six, however, he was passed by BJ Wambold who then had to contend with a tight group that included Nick Schaeffer, Trisha Connolly and Edelman.

            At the halfway mark Edelman hustled his way to second and from there began a torrid assault on Wambold. Racing two-by-two Edelman finally eked ahead with seven circuits to go and then stayed solid en route to victory #4.

            For Terry Peters of Lehighton, the night of June 25, 2022 will be remembered for years to come as he won his career first feature, coming in the 20-lap Pro 4 event.

            And he did so in a solid fashion as he led the entire way while holding off a tight pack of on-comers. At the line he had Jake Kibler on his rear bumper with point leader Cody Kohler third.

            In the Futures feature the four race win streak of Parker Ahner came to end after Makayla Kohler of Schnecksville won for the first time this season.

            Kohler dueled with Adam Steigerwalt for the first few laps but then after taking the lead she was no match for the rest of the way.

            The race for second was very close, however, as Michael Klotz and Ryan Petro went head to head right down to the wire.

1st Modified feature finish (45 laps): 1. Matt Hirschman, 2. Zane Zeiner, 3. Lou Strohl, 4. Austin Kochenash, 5. Kyle Strohl, 6. Brian DeFebo, 7. Earl Paules, 8. Cody Kohler, 9. Jaden Brown, 10. Bobby Jones, 11. Josh Scherer, 12. Carl Altemose, 13. Sean Verwys, 14. Geary Rinehimer Jr., 15. Jacob Kerstetter, 16. Rod Snyder Jr., 17. Nick Bear, 18. Terry Markovic, 19. Don Wagner DNS: Wes Gilbert

2nd Modified feature (45-laps): 1. Hirschman, 2. Paules, 3. Altemose, 4. Kochenash, 5. DeFebo, 6. Baer, 7. K. Strohl, 8. Kohler, 9. Scherer, 10. L. Strohl, 11. Rinehimer Jr., 12. Kerstetter, 13. Verwys, 14. Jones, 15. Markovic, 16. Wagner, 17. Snyder, 18. Zeiner, 19. Brown DNS: Gilbert

Street Stock feature finish (30 laps): 1. TJ Gursky, 2. Jon Moser, 3. Randy Ahner Jr, 4. Todd Ahner, 5. Tommy Flanagan, 6. Matt Schlenker, 7. Josh Mooney, 8. Thomas Flanagan, 9. Jill Snyder, 10. Mark Deysher, 11. John Bennett, 12. Mark Martini, 13. Cody Geist, 14. Stacey Brown, 15, Beau Drobot, 16. Jacob Boehm, 17. Tucker Muffley. DNS: Jeremy Scheckler

Hobby Stock feature finish (25 laps): 1. Corey Edelman, 2. BJ Wambold, 3. Nick Schaffer, 4. Trisha Connolly, 5. Shayne Geist, 6. Justin Merkel, 7.Jacob Boehm, 8.Cody Boehm, 9. Lyndsay Buss, 10. Travis Solomon, 11. Kenzie Adams, 12. Micah Adams, 13. James Tout, 14. Dave Imler, 15. Ralph Boger Jr, 16. Don Bauder, 17. Mallory Kutz, 18. Nick Kerstetter, 19. Dave Kerr, 20. Jared Frye DNS: Ryan Berger

Pro 4 feature finish (20 laps): 1. Terry Peters, 2. Jake Kibler, 3. Cody Kohler, 4. Tyler Stangle, 5. Colton Breiner, 6. Kadie Pursell, 7. Ken Reeder DNS: Richie Pursell

Futures feature finish (15 laps): 1. Makayla Kohler, 2. Michael Klotz, 3. Ryan Petro, 4. Adam Steigerwalt, 5. Parker Ahner, 6. Maggie Yeakel, 7. Arland Moyer Jr., 8. Lexus Kutz, 9. Zoe Kuchera


Riverhead, NY June 25th
By Bob Finan

Photo Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

Every time the popular NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour rolls into Riverhead Raceway on Long Island it is usually noted along the way the last time a track regular won a WMT event was back in 1995. Saturday night Kyle Soper of Manorville, the reigning champion at the quarter mile bullring scored one for the home team winning the Buzz Chew Chevrolet 200 after reclaiming the lead from defending WMT kingpin Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville with 10-lap remaining. Soper’s win comes 27 years and day after Eddie Brunnhoelzl Jr. won back on June 24th of 1995.

Kyle Soper #15 makes the winning pass on leader Justin Bonsignore #51 Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

Current WMT championship leader Ron Silk won the Mayhew Tools Pole Award with a lap of 11.586 edging out Timmy Solomito who toured the track in 11.637. As the 26-car grid took the green Solomito was able to get the early race advantage over Silk. Early on Solomito showed the way in his family-owned car which he has run part time to date in 2022. As the race developed joining race leader Solomito up front were Kyle Soper and Justin Bonsignore who started the race together from the third row. Other drivers flexing their muscles near the front prior to halfway included Tommy Catalano, Craig Lutz and Doug Coby, winner of the May 14th WMT stop at Riverhead.

After racing his way to second Soper drew closer to leader Solomito and was ready to make a bid for the lead. On lap 114 Soper was able to get around Solomito, who after being overtaken for the lead now had to try and fend off challengers for second as the handle went away on his car. Once to the lead Soper led 27-laps before Justin Bonsignore came calling making an inside pass for the lead on lap 143. With Bonsignore now out front seeking his 9th career Riverhead WMT triumph and just 57 laps left to click off many thought Bonsignore was in the cat bird seat.

After falling off Bonsignore after Justin took the lead Kyle Soper came back to life as the laps wound down and before he knew it he was on the rear bumper challenging for his first career WMT win. Entering the first and second turn Soper set Bonsignore up for a pass and by the time they started the 190th lap Soper was the new race leader. Bonsignore tried to cross Soper back over on lap 191 off the fourth corner but Soper was able to thwart that effort.

With the Riverhead Raceway faithful howling with approval Kyle Soper took the checker flag for car owners Wayne & Joette Anderson and the Eastport Feeds team and the celebration was on. Afterwards the 26-year old Soper was asked about his solid effort in qualifying playing a role in the win he responded, “yeah sure did, I was texting back and forth with Jimmy Blewett last night and he gave us some set up tips that got us close and further up front in qualifying”. As to his strategy after surrendering the lead to Bonsignore with 57-to go Soper shared, “after Justin got me on that restart I was just riding and see if I could reel him back in. Once I saw him getting loose on entry and exit I started licking my lips and timed it up pretty good”. In a lighter moment during victory lane festivities Kyle reflected, “I wasn’t even born yet when Eddie Brunnhoelzl Jr. won his WMT race, feels pretty good to get one though”.

Racing for a second straight NASCAR WMT win, Justin Bonsignore had to settle for second in the Phoenix Communications Chevy and looked back afterwards, “been a longtime since Eddie Brunnhoelzl Jr’s win here and it’s cool to see a Riverhead team win, just a shame he beat us to do it. Congratulations to Kyle, Wayne, Tom Soper and that team, it was only a matter of time, think I’ll make Wayne buy the ice cream”. As to the duel for the lead Justin recalled, “late in the race I saw Kyle getting back to me, I was hoping to use some lapped cars to get lost in but his car was better than ours at that point. Onto to Wall Stadium”.
Ron Silk of Norwalk, Ct. came home third in the Future Homes entry leaving him to wonder what he has to do to beat drivers who grew up racing at Riverhead, “the local guys who grew up here like Soper, Bonsignore and Solomito are just so tough here”. Silk was making his 21st career WMT start at Riverhead still in search of his first win.
Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Ma and Riverhead regular Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills were fourth and fifth. Completing the top ten were, Kyle Bonsignore of Bay Shore, John Beatty Jr. of Merrick Timmy Solomito of Islip, Austin Beers of Northampton, Pa and Doug Coby of Milford, Ct.  

Buzz Chew Chevrolet 200: 1. Kyle Soper 2. Justin Bonsignore 3. Ron Silk 4. Jon McKennedy 5. Dylan Slepian 6. Kyle Bonsignore 7. John Beatty Jr. 8. Timmy Solomito 9. Austin Beers 10. Doug Coby 11. Eric Goodale 12. Tyler Rypkema 13. Matt Brode 14. Tommy Catalano 15. Craig Lutz 16. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 17. Chris Young 18. Dave Sapienza 19. Roger Turbush 20. James Pritchard Jr. 21. Donny Lia 22. Walter Sutcliffe Jr. 23. Chris Turbush 24. Ken Heagy 25. JB Fortin 26. Melissa Fifeld


Riverhead, NY June 25th.
By Bob Finan

Prior to the exciting Buzz Chew Chevrolet 200 Saturday at Riverhead Raceway, four Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series events were presented with two of the four race winners earning their first career wins. “Mad” Max Handley of Medford crossed the line first in a rough and tumble 25-lap Crate Modified feature for his career first while third generation driver Kyle Curtis of Hampton Bays topped a non-stop Street Stock 20-lapper earning his first win.

Eddie Schutze moved to the Crate Modified lead at the start from the pole, but a quick yellow on lap on would prove to be a sign of things to come. On the restart Max Handley, who started from the outside pole moved to the race lead when the green reappeared with Alex Colasanto moving to second behind Handle. Caution waved again on lap 8 for a Mark Wolf spin in turn four and when the field reset and went back racing Handley held serve with Charles Macwhinnie getting by Colasanto for second. Only three green flag laps were run before the hardest crash of the night slowed the race on the 11th lap when Lou Maestri and Rich Gerbe made hard impact with the wall just before the starters stand. Both drivers were okay. After a clean-up the race continued with Handley remaining on top with Colasanto reclaiming second from Macwhinnie on the restart. Meantime Owen Grennan who started 18th was on the march raced his way to third and was about to make his presence known. Lap 14 saw Grennan dive to the inside of Colasanto to move to second setting his sights on leader Handley. The final yellow waved on lap 21 when AJ DeSantis and Sean Glennon got together off turn four, something leader Handley did not want to see, a restart with four laps remaining with Grennan the all time leader winner in the class alongside.

When the green waved again Max Handley was able to ward off the challenge and drive his Hydro Action Chevy to the race win with Owen Grennan of Glen Cove hot on his tail for second in the Dillner Precast Chevy. Alex Colasanto of Selden ended a string of hard racing luck with a third-place tally in the Vanguard Fire Protection Corvette.

Blunderbust winner Eddie Diaz Riverhead Raceway June 25th 2022 Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

The Blunderbusts ran their first leg of the Miller Lite Triple Crown Series going to post in a 30-lap feature event and they so often do clicked off a non-stop race with Eddie Diaz of Centereach scoring a clean sweep. In qualifying Diaz toured the track in 14.461 earning the pole. At the throw of the green Diaz quickly moved out front in search of his second career win with 2021 champion Cody Triola in hot pursuit. Early on Triola kept pace with the pace set by Diaz, but as the laps clicked off the race leader started to get away building a comfortable cushion. It became evident that Triola was going to have a shot at wrestling the lead away he’d need restart to do so but with the cautions waving it was Eddie Diaz taking home the gold in the Notorious Tattoo entry. Cody Triola of Bay Shore was runner-up in the Cesspool Pros machine while opening night winner “Hubcap” Brandon Hubbard of Mastic was third in the United Exhaust Shop racer.

INEX Legends winner Jason Castaldo Riverhead Raceway June 25th 2022 Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

Like the Crate Mods, the INEX Legend Race Cars had a rough 20-lap main event but when the dust settled it was Jason Castaldo of Shirley earning his second win of the year. Mike Benton led the first four circuits taking the lead from the pole. Former champion Jim Sylvester who started 5th on the grid, passed Jerry Curran for second on lap 2 and two laps later made an inside pass of leader Benton exiting the second turn for the lead. Benton chased Sylvester until the 8th lap when he was overtaken by Jason Castaldo who started the race from 9th. The wildest crash of the night unfolded at the start of the 9th lap when several cars further back in the field got together with Ray Stulz flipping wildly down the front stretch through the winner circle. Stulz quickly exited the car uninjured. After the red flag period the race resumed with Sylvester still leading Castaldo and the duo would duel for the race lead over the following 8 laps. Just after completing the 17th lap Castaldo set up an inside pass of leader Sylvester exiting the second turn and over the final two laps remained out front in his M3 Technology mount for the win. Jim Sylvester of Massapequa was second in the Joe Ryan Race Cars coupe while defending champion George Tomko Jr. of Aquebogue raced to a third place finish in his Montauk Distilling entry after starting 15th.

Street Stock winner Kyle Curtis Riverhead Raceway June 25th 2022

Kyle Curtis, grandson of popular 60’s and 70’s driver Frank “Mississippi” Curtis designed his Street Stock with the AOK number on the side of his car, paying tribute to his racing lineage. Saturday the AOK sat in victory lane once again after 20-laps of racing. When the race, which turned out to be a caution free affair got underway Curtis jumped to the race lead from the outside pole with Alyssa Paprocky giving chase for the first three laps. On the 4th lap Gerard Lawrence moved by Paprocky for second and set his sights on leader Curtis. As the race moved along Curtis had to execute some defensive driving as the handle on his car went away. Lawrence looked high and low for a lane around the leader but every time he did Kyle played defense. In the end, despite smoke billowing from his car Kyle Curtis drove to his first career Street Stock win in the Wilson Distributors Chevy. Gerard Lawrence of Miller Place was second in the Lafo’s Glass Monte Carlo with Alyssa Paprocky of Rocky Point turning in a solid performance for third in the Robert’s Asphalt Chevy.

Crate Modifieds (Unofficial) 1. Max Handley 2. Owen Grennan 3. Alex Colasanto 4. Mike Albasini 5. Terry Stiles 6. Eric Hersey 7. Charles Macwhinnie 8. Michael Berner 9. Mark Wolf 10. Eddie Schutze 11. Sean Glennon 12. Dennis Krupski 13. Kyle Ellwood 14. Patrick Glennon 15. Chase Grennan 16. Chris Rogers 17. AJ DeSantis 18. Lou Maestri 19. Rich Gerbe 20. Vinny Delaney 21. Stephen Coleman

Blunderbusts: 1. Eddie Diaz 2. Cody Triola 3. Brandon Hubbard 4. Jim Laird Jr. 5. Tom Puccia 6. Bill Wegmann Sr. 7. AJ DeSantis 8. Bill Wegmann Jr. 9. Joshua Creel 10. Steve Neenan

Legend Race Cars: 1. Jason Castaldo 2. Jim Sylvester 3. George Tomko Jr. 4. Richie Davidowitz 5. Ray Fitzgerald 6. Nick Morabito 7. Collin Hoeffner 8. Eric Hersey 9. Jerry Curran 10. Anthony Marsh 11. Joey Braun 12. Luke Baldwin 13. Pat Moore 14. Chris Sinatro 15. Peter Fallon 16. Colin Volpe 17. Mike Benton 18. Christopher Coleman 19. Charlie Hodge 20. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 21. Chase Van Houten 22. Jake Curran 23. Ray Stulz 24. Mike Van Houten Jr. 25. Ryan Lutz 26. Donald Doran

Street Stocks: 1. Kyle Curtis 2. Gerard Lawrence 3. Alyssa Paprocky 4. Chris Lescenski 5. Dave Antos 6. Greg Harris 7. Jarrod Hayes 8. Brian McCormack 9. Danny Pizzo 10. Rhett Fogg 11. Jamie Curtis 12. Kyle Halpin 13. Ed Fontana 14. William Kennedy 15. Jay Henschel DNS- Greg Zaleski