Photo Noah Watts/Myracenews
(LEHIGHTON, PA. 3-29-20) The Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fame Series (MVSHoFS), a race five special run amid the Modifieds, Street Stocks and Hobby Stocks, has been rapidly gaining interest among drivers from all three classes.
The MVSHoFS will be centered on an elite group of track legends including Doug Hoffman, John “Peepers” Yerger, George Wambold, Marvin Bartholomew and Hal Renninger.
And, while the five races will be determined with special distances and purses for the Modifieds, the Street and Hobby Stockers are also being included which has greatly bettered an already thrilling set of events.
For the Modifieds race number one is slated for Opening Night and honors Hoffman and his No. 60. Thus the feature will be 60 laps. Next will be a 77-lapper paying tribute to Yerger. That will be followed by an 81-lap affair which belongs to the celebrated Wambold. The next feature will be 85 laps, the number made famous by Bartholomew and finally a 99-lapper that is associated with Renninger.
“We’re very excited to bring the Hall of Fame Series to Mahoning Valley,” said track promoter Keith Hoffman.
“We wanted to honor all these important drivers for their contributions to the track. Our loyal fans and drivers will now have the opportunity to compete in meaningful ‘specials’ throughout the season.”
With the anticipation of the start of the season and race number one draws near many drivers have made it their intent to not miss out on this unique structure of races.
“I really like the idea of the Hall of Fame Series,” said Zane Zeiner, who often takes in the special type shows at Mahoning Valley and does so most times as a winner.
“This works out great for me running once each month and then be able to spend time with my son who will be racing there too with a Sport Mod so this helps all around. We’re definitely going to do all five Series’ races.”
Over the years there has been a variety of series type races at Mahoning and Zeiner is no stranger to winning them either. In 2012 he captured the Modified Madness Series.
“I think it’s pretty neat. There’s a lot of famous drivers that are associated with Mahoning and to get to compete in something called Hall of Fame with the great names that go along with it is something special and if we can get one of those wins it would be that much sweeter.”
Not surprising Matt Hirschman was quick to throw his hat into the ring. Hirschman has 18 wins at Mahoning and of them is a record 14 special event features. He feels the MVSHoFS will be a great set of races for the Modifieds.
“I thinks it’s twofold. One it’s a great way to honor the past greats from the track and the area in general and the history that they represent and it means a lot to recognize that,” explained Hirschman.
“And doing it that it reflects their car number for the laps, every race is different. You can approach each race a little bit different based on the amount of laps and the races may play out completely different each time and that’s something exciting to prepare for.”
Each of the Modified features will have a car in that respective show with a number as a tribute to the night’s honoree. Hirschman will carry Doug Hoffman’s 60-Over for the first event.
“I have a lot of respect for Doug and his career and what he accomplished for a driver from this area. It’s an honor for me to carry his number for the first race being run in his name,” added Hirschman.
“It just so happened we share the same car number. That number goes back to Dorney Park and part of the reason that Doug and his family went with the 60 was because they liked my dad’s car from Dorney Park when he had the 60 so there is a tie-in there to the car number,” he continued.
“We’ve won with that car number from Maine to Florida and both the Hoffman family and Hirschman family have won a lot of races with that car number so it’s very recognizable in the northeast on both dirt and asphalt.”
There is indeed a stout field of Modifieds that will be taking in the MVSHoFS and that includes the all-time class wins leader Eric Beers who will be racing exclusively at Mahoning for the Series.
“It’s going to be an awesome series. I’ve always liked years ago when Doug Hoffman came up with the Poker Series and it carried on with Floyd Santee as the Gamblers Series and now with Keith Hoffman coming up with the Hall of Fame Series, it has the making of something special and I think you’re going to see a lot of people coming out with lots of cars and fans especially for Opening Night,” said Beers, a 55-time winner here and three-time track champion.
As an added incentive the Modifieds will be offered a ‘gamblers fee.’ If a driver so chooses to take the gamble then he/she will win an additional $1000 for that feature. The gamblers fee is being sponsored by Gambler Transportation and Recovery of Whitehall.
By adding the Street Stocks and Hobby Stocks, those drivers as well have been showing much appeal towards the Series.
2019 division champion Jon Moser is very committed.
“Just make the check out to me!” remarked Moser. “I’m looking forward to it for sure and I’m definitely game for it. We’re going to give it our best.”
Moser belongs to a solid fraternity of Street Stockers that have for years been a major factor as a support division at Mahoning with a field that runs deep in parity. However, this Series is designed for not just the regulars but is structured to allow others to come in as well.
“I look forward to the competition and hopefully we will wind up in Victory Lane,” said Moser.
And the competition is certainly looking impressive too. Along with all the hot-handed steadies there are drivers from a number of area asphalt tracks who have voiced their commitment with several from nearby Evergreen Raceway.
Of them is one of the rising stars who will be racing at Mahoning Valley for the first time, Evan Rygielski, who is a rookie this year with the Street Stocks but a seasoned veteran none the less with 100 career wins that encompasses Kart, Bandolero and Hobby Stocks.
“I think it’s a great series they put together and it’s also a great opportunity for me to race there. I’ve watched races there, it’s a bullring and looks fun to race at so I’m excited,” said Rygielski.
“I know I’ll have to take it easy for the first few laps and get use to the track and then keep picking the pace up and hopefully run the same times as the top guys there. My goal would be to finish with a decent showing and hopefully get a win or two in the Series.”
The Series marks the first time that Hobby Stocks will be part of a season-long special. This class has grown in leaps and bounds and the time was right to add this stirring division.
Rich Mutarelli, a veteran of the Hobby Stocks, is on the verge of becoming the all-time wins leader. He noted that MVSHoFS is a great opportunity for his class to showcase themselves and be justifiably rewarded.
“Personally I feel it’s an honor that our class is getting the recognition that I think we earned and deserve. The crop of talented drivers in the whole class is amazing. Even the young kids that are just coming up and racing against older guys like me is pretty cool,” said Mutarelli.
“This Series is good for the track regulars and also to those who want to come in from other tracks and race with us. I’d love to see the Wall (Stadium) guys, the Evergreen (Raceway) guys and the Riverhead guys and see what they have against us.
“I believe Mahoning is the best racing on the East coast for asphalt short track. These guys will be coming into our territory and I’m excited to see what happens with the Hall of Fame Series.”
The MVSHoFS will see a separate tally of points for each class and at the conclusion of the five events the top three will receive point fund monies. Drivers must compete in each of the five races in order to be eligible for the point fund money. There will be a nominal entry fee to run each of the specials. After the fourth race drivers must drop there worse finish in order to improve their standings.
The point fund breakdown is as follows: $1500, $1000 and $500 to the top three in Modifieds. $1000, $600 and $400 for the Street Stocks and $500, $300 and $200 for the Hobby Stocks.
There is also 50-showup points as well that will be added towards that driver’s 2020 regular season standings amount. Each class will draw for starting spots for both heats and features. Only feature points will count towards the MVSHoFS title of the respective divisions.
“I think with the point fund and good purse we’re offering we’ll be able to pull some