Tommy Classic Launches Diamond Series For 2023 Friday Night At Williams Grove Speedway
Story By: SHAWN BROUSE / WILLIAMS GROVE SPEEDWAY – MECHANICSBURG, PA – Williams Grove Speedway will present the Tommy Hinnershitz Classic on Seifert Concrete Night coming up this Friday evening, April 21 at 7:30 pm.
The Lawrence Chevrolet 410 sprint cars will race in the Tommy Classic, going 30 laps for $8,000 to win.
A program of street stock racing will accompany the sprint cars on the card.
Fast Tees Screenprinting of Thompsontown will pay $300 to the fast qualifier in time trials.
The annual Tommy Classic will be the first race of the season in the Hoosier Diamond Series at Williams Grove.
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.
Brent Marks of Myerstown is the defending Tommy Classic winner having taken the victory in an All Stars event last season.
The late Craig Keel won the first Tommy race in 2007.
No one has won more Tommy Classic races than Lance Dewease who is a three-time victor.
So far this season with only two sprint car events in the book at Williams Grove, only Zeb Wise and Dewease have taken wins.
For over 60 years, event sponsor Seifert Concrete of Dillsburg has been providing concrete construction services to general contractors and owners in South Central Pennsylvania.
April will close at Williams Grove on the 28th with a show of 410 sprints and URC360/358 sprints, competing in a challenge race.
Adult general admission for the Tommy Classic is $25 with students ages 13-20 admitted for just $10.
Kids ages 12 and under are always free at Williams Grove Speedway.
Hinnershitz Legacy Honored Friday
Friday’s sprint car show at Williams Grove Speedway will 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.