Story By: SHAWN BROUSE / WILLIAMS GROVE SPEEDWAY – MECHANICSBURG, PA – Competitors are primed for the first big race of the season at Williams Grove Speedway for the Lawrence Chevrolet 410 sprint cars, coming up this Friday night, April 22 at 7:30 pm.
The All Stars Circuit of Champions Sprint cars will be in the house Friday to invade for the annual Tommy Hinnershitz Classic presented by KRS Graphics.
The annual Tommy Classic will be the first race of the season in the Hoosier Diamond Series at Williams Grove, paying $6,000 to win the 30-lap affair.
The race is meant to honor Tommy Hinnershitz, known as “The Flying Dutchman,” from Oley, Pennsylvania, who holds the distinction of winning the first ever race held at historic Williams Grove Speedway back on May 21, 1939.
California’s Kyle Larson, an independent driver, pocketed the Tommy Classic loot last season while on his way to claiming the 2021 NASCAR season title.
Larson also copped the classic in 2020.
The late Craig Keel won the first Tommy race in 2007.
No one has won more Tommy Classic races than local Lance Dewease who is a three-time victor.
For the All Stars, the event presents the first chance of the season for the travelers to invade and show their stuff against the famed Pennsylvania Posse.
After starting their history at the track back in 1970, it took until 2019 until a touring All Star in the form of Aaron Reutzel was able to break into victory lane at Williams Grove.
All other shows had been won by the locals and only twice since has an All Star, again as in Reutezel, taken a Williams Grove win.
The travelers’ last win at the track was in September of 2020.
So the question is, has a new winless streak begun for the All Stars at Williams Grove Speedway?
The previous streak lasted some 35 events.
Defending series titlist Tyler Courtney of Indianapolis, Ind., will lead the All Stars into Williams Grove on Friday after just sweeping a pair of races at Attica, Ohio.
Others expected to invade include Cory Eliason, Hunter Schuerenberg, Justin Peck, Zeb Wise, Kyle Reinhardt and more.
Peck already has an unsanctioned win at the track this season after taking the Williams Grove season opener on March 18.
The local fight will be put up by the likes of Lance Dewease, Danny Dietrich and Anthony Macri among others.
Larson and Macri were All Stars winners at Williams Grove last season and Macri is fresh off of a Williams Grove win on April 15.
Hinnershitz Legacy Honored Friday
This Friday’s All Stars sprint car show at Williams Grove Speedway is meant to honor its original winner. He was the first. He had one of the most recognizable names in motorsports history dating back to the 1930s.
On tap at Williams Grove on Friday will be the annual Tommy Hinnershitz Memorial Spring Classic, honoring the late, great racer from Oley that holds the distinction of winning the first ever race held at the brand new Williams Grove Speedway back on Sunday, May 21, 1939.
Hinnershitz won the race in what was called a “hard and heady” event to best the famed Joie Chitwood.
Hinnershitz’s death in 1999 left behind an auto-racing legacy worthy of note by any standards.
During his 30-year career spanning 1930-1960, “The Fying Dutchman,” as he was known, amassed seven AAA/USAC Eastern Big Car Championships, taking titles in 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1955, 1956 and in 1959.
He had garnered 103 total AAA/USAC feature wins with 19 taking place at Williams Grove.
Hinnershitz set 43 AAA track records during his tenure and would compete in three Indianapolis 500s.
At the time of his death, the 87-year old was ranked second behind Steve Kinser on the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame’s Top Sprint Car Drivers of All Time list.
Back in 1939, when Hinnershitz passed Chitwood for the lead in that maiden race at Williams Grove, the duel was billed as “one of the most thrilling bits of driving ever witnessed on a Pennsylvania speedway.”
It was said that when Hinnershitz passed Chitwood, “the Big Chief was met with acclaim from the crowd.”
And Williams Grove will bestow even more worthy acclaim in the Big Chief’s honor this Friday night.
Adult general admission for the April 22 racing program is set at $25 with students ages 13-20 admitted for just $10.
Kids ages 12 and under are always admitted for FREE at Williams Grove Speedway.