Building Momentum

By Rev Don Rivers

As activities continue to return to pre-quarantine levels we have had the opportunity to return to some of our customary places. Several of the tracks we serve have had practices and races. We are building momentum as we get back to our regularly scheduled program.  Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Rev Don Rivers at White Mountain Motorsports Park 7/4/2020

This past week came the announcement that the NASCAR Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway will include fans. Delayed from original date it will be run on Sunday, August 2 and we will have fans in the stands. Although it will be limited to 35% capacity this is another step in building momentum toward a full recovery.

This past week Stafford Motor Speedway executed a return to action under restrictions negotiated with the State of Connecticut. From what I hear things went off without a hitch. They sold out the 2,500 available tickets a week ahead of time. They are limited for now to 25% capacity. The staff and management worked very hard to put the framework in place for a return to live racing becoming the first venue in the state to have such a large gathering of people permitted.

Not only were fans in attendance but the paddock was full. I believe 125+ cars were in the garage area and each division enjoyed very healthy car counts. I find it very encouraging that everyone was willing to do what they needed to do to allow the racing to return. Great job by Stafford, the teams and the fans.

Connecticut and New Hampshire are leading the way, building momentum for a return to normalcy. We are all chomping at the bit, like horses in the starting gate, waiting to burst out and run. Sometimes in our anticipation and excitement we can get ahead of ourselves. We will get there but we need to take it a little slower than some may want.

We had a setback this week as one of our chaplains, Bobby Somers, had a medical issue that put a monkey wrench in his return to racing plans. I want to share with you his excitement about being back at the track last week.

“Well we got back to the tracks last week and Mother Nature had her own idea of heats.

It was great to be back at Lee USA in New Hampshire to catch up with people and see the excitement that it just wasn’t practice. Many new faces in the pits and I spoke with many. The crowd filtered in slowly but by sunset looked pretty good for being close to 100 degrees.

Lots of great racing and everyone kept a cool head competing, allowing for some side by side racing and good ole old school racing. The Wrens have put in a lot of great work at Lee so far and they still have a lot of ongoing projects as well. 

On Sunday it was the Sahara Desert 150 at White Mountain Motorsport Park. That wasn’t the actual name but it fit well. The temps were 103 degrees and no breeze. The track temp was close to 130 I was told. They had a huge field of 32 cars for the PASS Tour race. The heat decided at lap 95 to start subtracting. Every lap more cars succumbed to the heat causing teams to run out of tires and overheating. At the end it was down to 11 cars and Derek Griffith starting from the rear took the checkered flag.

In between, on Saturday, I spent it with my daughter Sarah who will be getting married in August. After the wedding she will be heading to Alberta to live. This Father’s day I have been truly blessed with an incredible daughter and a Son in law to be. All this down time without racing really gave me time to reflect on family and many others things.

Last season in my absence I entered into a world of severe depression and anxiety to a point I needed hospitalization. During my stay I had a Christian nurse who would check on me and quote scripture passages. Her faith and strength helped me because she got me back to reading my bible and helped restore my faith in Jesus Christ.

With so much going on in today’s world, don’t remain silent in a crisis. Don’t be ashamed if you have anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide or any type of addiction. No matter what, you are loved, not only by your family, but by our creator Jesus Christ. I know it’s tough when you try to get help or get into a facility and they say no beds or a waiting list. I have been there and understand what you’re going through. Don’t give up, thinking you failed and no one wants you! Continue to pray and spend quality time with Jesus. You are an incredible human being.

My first meeting with Rev. Don in Springfield about 10yrs ago, he quoted this verse:

Jeremiah 29:11; For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, and to give you hope and future.

Remember that, God is with you.”

Thank you Bobby for your heartfelt encouragement. Bobby suffered a stroke this past week and a secondary blood clot that had him in ICU. He said he may have jumped the green flag. He has been released this week and is at home recovering. He hopes to have his feet on the ground by the end of the month. Please join us in lifting Bobby up, also remember his wife Vinetta and daughter Sarah.

We are building momentum but let’s not jump the green flag as Bobby put it. We will get there and when we do what a day of rejoicing it will be! Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.

Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fame Series George Wambold 81-lap Tribute this Saturday, July 11

(LEHIGHTON, PA 7-5-20) This coming Saturday, July 11, Mahoning Valley Speedway will present the second race of the Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fame Series (MVSHoFS) with the George Wambold 81-lap Tribute. The event will pay $2500-to-win the Modified feature. 10th spot will pay $500.

The 81-lap distance reflects the signature car number made famous by Wambold at Dorney Park and Mahoning Valley Speedways.

Also in action will be the Street Stocks and Hobby Stocks which are also part of the Series plus the E. Schneider & Sons Inc., Scrap Metal Rookie Hobby Stocks.

If race number one of the MVSHoFS is any indication then expect another great field of cars for this special show that will pay homage to one of the all-time greats of eastern Pennsylvania short track asphalt racing, George Wambold.

In a career that spans six decades, winning has been a way of life for Wambold. He owns the all-time wins record at defunct Dorney Park Speedway with 37, amassing that tally with at least one win in 20 consecutive seasons dating back to 1966.

Wambold also scored three track championships at the Park, coming in 1973, ’84 & ’86.

When the 1/5th mile Dorney Park track ceased operations after the 1986 season, Mahoning Valley swung back into action after sitting dormant since 1977 and Wambold was instrumental in coming to the aid of Ward and Dottie Crozier in resurrecting the paved ¼-mile oval.

It was fitting too, since Wambold had a strong connection to the track, dating back to his teen years of the late 1950s when he would attend events there, at the time a dirt track, and the speedway where he eventually began his career at.

When Mahoning took on a blacktop surface in 1970, Wambold quickly became one to the top stars, winning 11 times between 1970 & ’74. In 1971 he would garner his first of two Modified track titles.

In 1987 when Mahoning re-opened, Wambold became a force to reckon with. He won four times and would win his second track crown in the process.

Over the following years the winning continued and when he finally hung up his helmet after the 1998 season, he scored 27 wins. Between here and Dorney his total is 67 first place features, third on the all-time eastern Pennsylvania Modified winners list, with only Eric Beers and Brian DeFebo having more victories in that category.

Despite not racing himself in the past 20 years, the Wambold name remained at the forefront at Mahoning with his sons Brian and Michael, grandkids Tiffany and BJ and Brian’s stepson, Justin Merkel, carrying on the family legacy. 

Saturday action will get underway with early paid practice starting at noon. Heats, which will be lined up by random draw, will get underway starting at 6:00 pm. The day’s complete order of events will be released shortly.

Adult grandstand admission is $20, $2 discount for active military, students and seniors 65+. Must have valid ID. Children 10 & under are free. Pit admission is $30 members – $40 non-members.

In the event of inclement weather, Sunday afternoon, July 12, has been designated as the rain date.

Please log onto the official Mahoning Valley Speedway website at www.mahoningvalley-speedway.com or on Facebook at Mahoning Valley Speedway for updated info. Mahoning Valley Speedway is located on PA route 443 just a few miles west of Lehighton.

Christian III goes Three in a Row with the GSPSS on the 4th of July

Ray Christian III kicked off the 2020 Independence Day weekend with his third GSPSS win in a row at Claremont Motorsports Park.

   The Granite State Pro Stock Series took to the track for the second time of the season with an Independence Day celebration for the ages. Weekly racing, a massive fireworks display and 100 laps of pro stock action were on the card and non-disappointed.

   Angelo Belsito looked to be the man to beat as he was quick in practice, fastest in the Crazy Horse Racing fast time challenge and handily won his heat race. It was an all Belsito kind of night until it came time for the GSPSS redraw. Eight drivers redrew and Belsito pulled the number 8.

   Local favorite Luke Hinkley won heat race number two in dominant fashion and looked to have the car to finally pick up that illusive first series win. He would not fare a lot better in the redraw as he pilled pill number 5.

   Two time series champion Mike O’Sullivan would start from the pole with another former champion, Barry Gray on the outside of row one. Winner of the last two series events, Christian III would start from the fourth position in his attempt to make it three in a row.

   O’Sullivan rocketed to the lead at the drop of the green flag while Gray spun his tires and stacked up the outside line allowing Jake Matheson and Luke Hinkley to move past. Hinkley quickley moved past Matheson for second and and then took the lead from O’Sullivan.

  Hinkley would lead the middle half of the race setting a torrid pace and running away from the field. He looked to have the car to beat as no one could match his pace.

   A late race restart and hard racing would ruin the day for both Hinkley and Belsito who had worked his way to second and then the race lead. Contact between the two would result in Belsito spinning off turn two and Hinkley being sent to the rear for his involvement in the spin. Hinkley would battle back for a top ten finish while a gear oil leak was found on Belsito’s mount ending his night.

   Joey “Pole” would hang on for second with defending series champion Joey Doiron battling an ill handling race car to third. Mike O’Sullivan would hang on to fourth while Cory Casagrande would start in tenth and quietly, methodically, work his way into the top five and finish fifth.

   Second year driver Jake Matheson would hang on to finish sixth while Hinkley would battle back for seventh. Rookies Cody Leblanc and Casey Call would finish eighth and ninth with Ryan Lineham in tenth.

   The next event for the series will will take place at the Hudson Speedway on Sunday July 12th. The tight quarter mile bullring in Hudson NH has become a series favorite and always provides for outstanding racing.

   to follow the series go to www.gspss.net or follow the series on facebook, twitter and instagram.

Results:

1 – 93ct Ray Christian III

2 – 97 Joey Polewarcyk

3 – 73 Joey Doiron

4 – 08 Mike O’Sullivan

5 – 7ct Cory Casagrande

6 – 52nh Jake Matheson

7 – 31nh Luke Hinkley

8 – 55 Cody Leblanc

9 – 90nh Casey Call

10 – 48 Ryah Lineham

11 – 29 Barry Gray

12 – 88 Kevin Casper

13 – 12 Bobby Pelland

14 – 18 John Lowinski-Low

15 – 8b Angelo Belsito

16 – 11 Bryon Baker

17 – 40 Mike Mitchell

18 – 8nh Guy Caron

Contingency Awards :

    Sunoco Race Fuels heat race winners – 5 gallons of race fuel – 31nh Luke Hinkley, 8b Angelo Belsito

   AR Bodies hard luck award – $100 product certificate – 40 Mike Mitchell

   Crazy Horse Fast Time Challenge – 1st $125 -8b Angelo Belsito – 2nd $75 – 31nh Luke Hinkley – 3rd $50 – 73 Joey Doiron

Magnus Performance Parts – 7th place finisher $100 product certificate – 31nh Luke Hinkley

   Matco Tools : product certificates – winner $75 – 93ct Ray Christian III – Random Draw $75 – to be drawn at the next event

   Bassett Wheels – 3rd $50 product certificate – 73 Joey Doiron

   VDL Fuel Systems – 5th $100 product certificate – 7ct Cory Casagrande

   American Racer Hard Charger – one free tire – 55 Cody LeBlanc

   Speed 51 leader at lap 51 – $51 – 31nh Luke Hinkley

Tom Morris Photos

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