Champions Honored and Legends Enshrined at Annual Awards Banquet
Story By: Lernerville Speedway
Photos By: Tommy Hein/RacersGuide.com
Sarver, PA (March 3, 2019)……. Four champions were crowned for their tremendous seasons and four very deserving drivers were enshrined in the Lernerville Speedway Hall of Fame on Saturday night at the annual awards banquet. It was a night for honoring achievements and saluting great careers. A staggering amount of skill could be found at the head table as the four champions on hand have now won a combined 13 titles between them and managed to take 25 feature victories total as a group of champions.
Meanwhile, the 2018 Hall of Fame class accumulated a combined 17 track championships in their Lernerville careers and over 110 feature wins.
Legends Enshrined in 2018 Class
“Super” Joe Kelley managed 52 of those wins in a career that started with an Enduro car years ago and wound up with seven track championships in the Pro Stock division where he still competes to this day. Kelley managed to win four track titles in a row from 1998 to 2001 in a class that has been one of the toughest to win over the years with deep fields of skilled drivers. Kelley was a tough competitor, and commanded respect from his peers while being a respectful driver at the same time and found success not only at Lernerville but at several area speedways over the years.
Following Kelley in the program was John Flinner who put together a staggering five consecutive Late Model titles from 2001 to 2005 while amassing 43 feature wins at The Action Track. Flinner took feature wins at virtually every track in the area in his career and provided polarizing moments and thrilling victories while taking chances that paid off more often than not displaying a good amount of gusto and skill throughout his career.
Kittaning, Pennsylvania wheel-man Kevin Schaeffer produced four Sprint Car track championships in his career at Lernerville, including three in a row from 2006 through 2008 while adding his fourth in 2012. He managed 16 feature wins in his Lernerville career and was a model of consistency as he seemingly finished in the top five every time he raced and was a threat to win at all times. Schaeffer collected wins around the area and track titles at Sharon and Challenger Speedways. He was also a weekly competitor at Port Royal Speedway for four seasons, finishing in the top 10 in points every year at the legendary central Pennsylvania speed plant.
Dave Thompson had built a legendary resume in area racing starting in the 1950’s and was one of the early stars of the sport to call The Action Track home. He was the first Late Model champion in track history in 1968, winning 10 out of 17 races for the year and would go on to add on to his legacy with more feature wins in the years that followed. Thompson also competed in “coupe’ style cars as well often beating cars of the 8 cylinder variety with two less cylinders under the hood. Thompson passed away in 2014.
It was another banner season four our Fab4 Fueled By Turners Premium Iced Tea track champions as AJ Flick, Michael Norris, Rex King Jr. and Corey McPherson each added to their considerable hardware collections on Saturday night.
Norris turned in the most dominant season in recent history as he recorded nine main event wins while winning the Precise Racing Products DIRTcar Late Model points championship by 101 points over second running Ken Schaltenbrand. Norris collected his second consecutive track title and was the class of the weekly field as evidenced by his coming from the tail on more than once occasion to win features. He cemented his solid season in one of the most memorable moments in Lernerville Speedway history on June 22, when he bested a field full of national touring professionals on his home track by winning the Friday night portion of the three day World of Outlaw Late Models Firecracker 100.
Flick was the definition of consistency in the Peoples Natural Gas DIRTcar Sprint Cars in 2018, placing on the podium all but one time while garnering five feature victories in points racing action. It was Flick’s third career title as he completed back to back track championships for the first time. Flick was at his best when it mattered as well, matching or besting the performance of 2016 track champion and runner up Jack Sodeman Jr. on a majority of race nights. He added a sixth win to put an exclamation point on his season on August 31 as part of the Sprint Car Spectacular to boot and followed up his Lernerville success with a win at Port Royal Speedway in September, crossing the finish line ahead of Lance Dewease.
For King, it was another season to remember that ended up with five feature wins and a second career track championship in the Diehl Automotive DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds. King was able to take the lions share of the wins, and took home back to back victories on June 8 and June 15 while putting distance between himself and runner up Dave Murdick in the standings as the season went along. It was his first track title at Lernerville since 2014, a year that saw him complete the Western, PA “triple crown” for the Modifieds by winning both titles at Lernerville and Sharon Speedway while earning BRP Modified Tour championship honors.
The battle for supremacy in the Millerstown Pic-A-Part DIRTcar/RUSH Pro Stocks was as exciting as ever and maybe even then some in 2018. A season long battle between six time champion Corey McPherson, Tyler Dietz and young standout Noah Brunnell kept fans on the edge of their seats all season long. Many nights the battle for the win came down to the last lap or last set of turns sometimes, as evidenced by a near photo finish between Brunnell and Dietz that fans in attendance will remember for years to come. When the smoke cleared, McPherson emerged victorious on the strength of four feature wins for his sixth championship.