Racers Give Positive Response After Bloomsburg Fair Test; Jimmy Spencer Named Grand Marshall For Opener
Story By: DINO OBERTO / BLOOMSBURG FAIR RACEWAY – BLOOMSBURG, PA – In advance of the third season of racing at the Bloomsburg Fair Raceway slated for April 20, a Test and Tune session was held this past Thursday evening and it was a twofold of sorts.
For promoter Rich Tobias it gave him a good bit of insight into weeks of preparation after cars made laps on the newly resurfaced 3/8-mile dirt oval while for drivers it was an opportunity to not only do shake down runs but also see how the work by Tobias was what they hoped to expect from his years of track prep expertise.
And the general consensus was all good from both sides. The cars that were on hand all got around fairly well with little if any dust issues, something that was problematic at times over the past two seasons. There were a few cars that also had some minor incidents but all in all drivers responded supportively of the track.
A mix of SpeedSTRs, 602 Crate Modifieds, FWD 4-Cylinder Stocks, which will be part of the regular line-up, where on hand plus a few others.
“The new surface was good, a little slimy at first but then it got real tacky. (Turns) Three and four is where all the new clay is and it was really good there and it was almost like Bridgeport (Speedway),” said Daryl Dissinger of Harrisburg, who runs a 602 Crate Modified.
“I never used a tear-off every time I went out and for the first night I thought it was great. I think for the 602 class this will be a great track and you should see some exciting racing.”
Dissinger races weekly at Big Diamond Speedway on Friday nights but is planning to make all of the bi-monthly Thursday shows here.
The SpeedSTRs will be the headline class and bringing out a new car was Tim Buckwalter of Pottstown. Buckwalter won the very first SpeedSTR race at Bloomsburg last April and is the 2022 USAC SpeedSTR champion at Action Track USA in Kutztown, a Tobias run track.
“It was a lot less dusty then the last time we ran here and they definetley got that under control and there’s some good moisture in it. The track stayed good the whole time and there may not be a whole lot of cars here but for the amount we have we probably put over a 100 laps on it and it stayed in good shape,” said Buckwalter.
“Anything Rich (Tobias) gets his hands in he does good at and I was so glad that when he said we were going to get more SpeedSTR races and that he was going to be running things here at Bloomsburg. He won’t ever let the track go bad and he’ll keep it good for all of us.”
Unofficially Doug Snyder of Easton posted a lap under the current SpeedSTR track record when is in his second session he turned a 17.728. Billy Pauch Jr., is the current class record holder at 17.923 set in April of last year.
“We’ve been working hard and Ben Stolz (Digital Marketing Manager) has certainly been a blessing with everything both in the office and helping me on track and I’m just glad to see this all come to fruition and I can’t wait until next Thursday when we have our opener,” said Tobias.
“Most of our racers have to travel a bit to get here so I can understand that not as many came out for a practice but I feel that once they see the track we have for them that we’ll do pretty good.”
The Test and Tune was also set with a new inner oval ready for the Slingshot cars. However, with only one car making the trip Tobias instead offered driver Andrew Turpin of Saylorsburg the option to run either that small track or the big track. He chose the latter.
“Honestly we do it in New York fairly often where at a lot of those bigger tracks they run the Slingshots and its more fun on them too. You can choose lines differently and there’s more options for passing with these cars,” Turpin said of running the oval similar to Bloomsburg.
“We were coming here expecting to run on the little track and that was small and tight. We are small (cars) but not go karts and we need a little bit more track room.”
Turpin, like everyone else, gave good reviews and feels it will be no problem for the Slingshots to race on the big track.
“Here it felt nice and a lot of it’s in the gearing and the set-up. I didn’t really have to lift off the throttle at all and I would say to all the other Slingshot guys is to come out and try it here. It was smooth and there’s a lot of space to race on and you don’t have to pull the kind of moves you would on a smaller, tighter size track.”
Tobias is okay whichever track the Slingshots drivers opt for. His intent is to give them a good track to race on and at in front of such a historic backdrop.
“We’ll give them the option and if they want to run the big track we’ll let them. We’re always open to suggestions and this is all new and I think it would be exciting for them out there if they did race on the big track,” explained Tobias.
“The biggest thing with the Slingshots they’re going to be running in front of this awesome grandstands. And with this type facility along with Action Track and some of the other tracks we have, it’s great that the Slingshots have the opportunity to compete at a facility like Bloomsburg.”
Tobias has a great reputation for his track prep at Kutztown and it was that same knowledge why the Fair Board reached out to him to run the program in 2023. Thursday’s Test and Tune it seems has everything pointed in the right direction.
“I always try to teach racers that someone is going to win tonight and everyone is on the same race track and teach positive attitude which is very important in this sport,” said Tobias.
“Mr. Excitement” Jimmy Spencer Named Grand Marshall For Opener
When the 2023 season begins on Thursday evening, April 20, at the Bloomsburg Fair Raceway, there won’t only be excitement taking place on the track but off as well when “Mr. Excitement” Jimmy Spencer, will be on hand serving as Grand Marshall.
The Berwick native was a wildly popular personality both on and off the track. He began racing on dirt at Port Royal Speedway and Beach Haven Speedway in a Late Model but after turning his attention to pavement and Modifieds his career began to rocket.
From nearby Evergreen Raceway and then onto the biggest motorsports stages in the country, Spencer was always a showstopper.
His stock really began to rise once he started competing on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour where he and his family run team where regular winners and upfront finishers.
Perhaps his biggest victory during his Modified years could easily be considered the 1982 CAM2 Race of Champions held at Pocono Raceway. Spencer started from the pole, led 60 of 250 laps and beat Jamie Tomaino in winning the Crown Jewel of Modified racing.
He would go on to win the 1986-87 National NASCAR Modified Tour champion which would be his springboard to racing fulltime in NASCAR’s top three tiers. Between 1985 and 2006 Spencer competed between Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series and is one of only 40 drivers to have won in each.
Spencer also has national wins in the NASCAR K & N East, North and West Series, ARCA Menards Series, World Series of Stock Car Racing, PASS Late Model Series, SMART Tour, ASA National Tour, ARTGO Challenge Series and ACT Pro Tour.
His final race was in Cup at Pocono Raceway in 2006 but afterwards he became a popular television commentator/analyst/podcaster.
In 2019 Spencer was inducted into the Eastern Motorsport Press Association Hall of Fame.
His father, Ed Spencer Sr., is a winner of over 200 features and raced at the Bloomsburg Fair in 1953 when the NASCAR Series ran a 200 lap event during the annual Fair.
Opening Night is Thursday, April 20 with All-Pro SpeedSTRs, 602 Crate Modifieds, FWD 4-Cylinder Stocks, Slingshots on the card.
Fans will have a special autograph session with “Mr. Excitement” Jimmy Spencer during intermission.
There will also be a demonstration of the kids JuiceBox Division which will have several dates during the season. The JuiceBox Division is a Radio Flyer kart for kids 10 and under.
Gates will open at 5:00 pm, hot laps at 6:15 pm and racing will begin at 7:00 pm. Adult grandstand admission is $15, seniors/Military/students are $13, kids 6-12 are $5 and under 5 free.