HAGERSTOWN, MD --
Hagerstown Speedway closed its 2009 season Saturday evening with a full house on hand for the Annual Awards Banquet at the Hagerstown Elks Lodge.
Following the banquet dinner, the program again began with a video by Sports Plus Video highlighting not only the champions but other racing throughout the season with a chance to view memorable and not so memorable moments.
The top award winners in down to the last race events were Roy Deese Jr, Laurel, Md, his overall seventh championship in the late models; Kyle Lear, Severna Park, Md. who recorded his career first title in the Hoosier Tire Mid Atlantic late model sportsman and Mike Warrenfeltz of Hagerstown who picked up his fourth championship in the Ernie D’s pure stocks.
Additionally, the top 10 drivers in the each of the three regular divisions; late models, Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic late model sportsman and Ernie D’s pure stocks, received trophy awards and point monies for their season long efforts.
Tying Denny Bonebrake at six championships last season, Deese now trails eight time champion Nathan Durboraw by one.
Deese, who knows well how titles are won, hasn’t come by them easily in the Deese Trucking entry co-owned with his dad, Roy Sr. Last season’s championship run came down to the final race when he went into the double point McBee/Hays Championship event with Jim Yoder, a potential title winner who held onto second spot for half the season.
Yoder was a factor again in 2009, being a close second through the middle of the season, but Frankie Plessinger also entered the picture, having earlier held one of the top three positions, each at least twice during the chase. Plessinger’s second place allowed him to take the lead by only seven points with only the McBee/Hays event remaining to decide the winner. Starting side by side in the fifth row, Deese went forward while Plessinger went backwards but his car always got faster as the race went on. Deese then drifted backwards several spots and ended eighth while Plessinger advanced to finish right behind him with the double points making a separation of only one point.
“That’s only one position all season,” Deese said. “I can’t believe I pulled this off. Frankie had us covered the last half of the year. I lost the 2002 Virginia championship by one point, so I know how he feels to have your whole season fall apart over one point.”
With only four races to go, Deese had a night that could have been the deciding factor in winning the title.
“I had an axle problem and stayed out and kept running,” he said.” I gained three positions and finished 13th (his worst point race finish) instead of dropping out. It was hard to stay out there and be off the pace but if you want to win a championship, that’s what you do.”
“My goal was to win another one, but my God, it wasn’t easy,” Deese continued. “Frankie and Jim Yoder were always there and gave me a good run for it. We raced each other hard all year. No matter who won, we were happy for each other. Both of them congratulated me.”
It was another season when the Deese team wouldn’t give up, struggling with making a new Rocket chassis debuted the first race in May, work to his satisfaction. While still under the gun of retaining his points lead, after trying different things on the car every week, he luckily secured the title before the apparent resolve of changing shocks came after working with fellow driver, Brian Booze.
“The racing surface at Hagerstown this year has been absolutely awesome,” said Deese. “I’ve been to a lot of tracks on the East coast and I haven’t found a track yet that you can run three wide for the lead or racing all night. They gave us a track to race on this year. It was a pleasure to race there.”
In the Hoosier Tire Mid Atlantic late model sportsman division, Lear, who has raced full time at Hagerstown since the 2005 season, ended with a close week by week chase with three time defending champion Andy Fries. Lear ended just 16 points behind Fries in the 2007 points chase.
“I kind of fell into that deal but my main goal this year was to win ten races and if we happened to get into a points situation, we were going to chase points,” Lear said.
Lear had an early 14th place finish after being involved in a heat race incident and starting from the rear as Fries took over for only one week. Lear led from May 21st on but not without Fries keeping him on top of his game until having some bad luck. Then on August 1st, Fries had a motor issue in the heat race and didn’t start the feature but Lear also finished 24th that night when his transmission broke on the third feature lap.
“I can’t believe I ended up finishing 24th and still winning the championship,” Lear said. “If Andy hadn’t got in a couple bad wrecks and lost that motor, it would have been a different season. When Andy blew and I lost the transmission, Wayne (Walls Jr) ran second and that pulled him up in the points.”
Warrenfeltz began driving the Todd Smith owned pure stock in 2000 and won the 2004 championship in the car. His earlier championships were in 1992 and 1997. He also ended the season with 74 career wins that will unlikely never be beat.
“I told Todd one time when we won 50, I was going to quit when I got to 100 (wins),” Warrenfeltz said. “He said ‘I don’t know if I can stay that long.’ We all get along good. Todd takes care of us and gives us a great car.”
Warrenfeltz battled all season with defending champion, Hans Stamberg and Darrin Younker with Warrenfeltz shuffled to third two times as both Stamberg and Younker led three times before Stamberg used the July 4th holiday and vacationed at the beach which turned second over to Younker.
“Darrin was there all the time but he had bad luck there at the end,” Warrenfeltz said. “Stupid stuff was happening to him.”
“I figure I might drive a couple more years,” Warrenfeltz continued. “I like to work on them, set them up and I’m having fun. It took a long time to get a ride like that. I have six grandkids and they love to go to the track. It keeps them out of trouble.”
Special awards were presented to various drivers in the three divisions.
Recipients of the late model awards were: Jim Yoder (Sportsmanship Award); Frankie Plessinger (Hard Luck Award); Steve Gibney (Most Improved Award) and Devin Friese (Best Appearing Award).
The HTMA late model sportsman awards went to: Scott Palmer (Sportsmanship); Andy Fries (Hard Luck); Mike Collins (Most Improved) and Ashley Barrett (Best Appearing).
Receiving the Ernie D’s pure stock awards were: Darrin Younker (Sportsmanship); Kevin Keefer (Hard Luck); Charlie Pensinger (Most Improved) and Wayne Hawbaker (Best Appearing).
Crew chief awards were received by Roy Deese Sr., Moe Defino (Lear) and Todd Smith. (Warrenfeltz)
Rookie of the Year was Glenn Elliott, who came from the Classic Cars division, who scored three times in his late model sportsman plus ended fourth in the point standings.
Shawn Wood of Selinsgrove, Pa received the 2009 Media Award. Wood is president of The Dirt Channel.com, his web site which covers race results and news from all over the country and from various divisions and sanctioning bodies. Wood also just completed his seventh season of on-site live streaming of racing as it is happening and broadcasting free of charge to anyone that has a computer and logged on. His webcasts cover big and small block modifieds, sportsman modifieds, midgets, non wing sprints, 410 sprints, 360 sprints and late models In his several monthly webcasts throughout the entire race season, Wood makes several trips to Hagerstown, mainly broadcasting the early season modified events and closing out with the Octoberfest events.
The Always There Award went to Sleep Inn and McDonald’s Restaurant in Clear Spring, Md. for their continued involvement and support.
The U.S. Army received the World Clock Award for their sponsorship of the electronic scoreboard.
Sponsor appreciation awards were also provided to the following businesses for their support and involvement throughout the season: Premium Distributors (Miller Light Point Fund); Hoosier Tire Mid Atlantic (Late Model Sportsman title sponsor, Shootout race & Hoosier Daddy race sponsor); Ernie D’s ( Pure Stock title sponsor, Ernie D’s 25 late model race); Booze Brothers Performance (Parts supplier); Sign Design-Bill Funk (Championship signs); Hagerstown Ford (Pace Truck); Checkered Flag Lube Center (Late Model Sportsman Hard Charger): Twigg Cycle; D & D Auto Recycling (Sunoco Race Fuel supplier); Advanced Marketing Solutions (Speedway marketing); County Medical Ambulance; Nininger’s Tire &Auto Center (Red Nininger Memorial sponsor); Meineke Car Care.
Inducted into the Hagerstown Speedway Hall of Fame was Mercersburg, Pa’s Gerald (Gerry) Fries, the Flying Chicken Farmer, a former driver and speedway flagman who still can be found in the pits every Saturday night, as the “overseer” of his son’s racing operation, three time late model sportsman champion, Andy Fries along with his crew chief and older brother, Toby.
It was 49 years ago that Fries married his now lifelong companion, Shirley. His first taste for speed came with a 1960 Plymouth that he ran in the C/Modified class at Mason Dixon and 75-80 Dragways.
It wasn’t unusual for Fries and his Plymouth to also be involved in some night time dragging on the highways around the area with Larry Gorman, Tex Myers, Roger Tracey and others.
After several years, Fries decided to check out oval racing. He attended the races at Hagerstown Speedway and in 1967 that was all it took. He bought a 1955 Ford in Marion but it was kept under wraps for several weeks, not only from his father but also Shirley for fear of the outcome. Helping his father and uncle on a farm with 10,000 chickens and 100 cows, there was no time for something like that.
Back then, Fries’ other past time was playing bass guitar and while alternating driving with his friend Buck Green, the motor blew one night while Fries was playing in the group, Tom Cat and the Country Kittens. That was the last Ford that Fries built or bought.
During his career, Fries raced at every track around; Hagerstown, Port Royal, Williams Grove, St. Thomas, Selinsgrove, Hesston, Everett, Susquehanna, Bedford, Natural Bridge and Waynesboro, Va, but his favorite was Winchester, where he and Buddy Armel would take the longest route around there, right up against the fence.
Fries ended his career with ten modern stock and late model features with his first coming June 5, 1971 at Port Royal. He scored twice at St. Thomas plus recorded the championships during 1971 and 1972. He had three wins at Winchester plus tied Red Nininger for the championship in 1972. In 1975, Fries capped his season with victory in Winchester’s 75-lap Fall Championship. He also scored two wins at Lincoln, both in Larry Gorman’s racer and his second and last Hagerstown win was June 11, 1978 in the Raymond Staley #67.
It was 1983 that Fries’ career came to an end. In May, he decided to paint a roof but he came tumbling down and shattered his ankle, ending with an entire length leg cast. His nights the next three months were spent in a hospital bed set up in the living room, but days were spent floating around on a raft in the swimming pool with a garbage bag wrapped around his cast.
He then became a flagman at Winchester and later at Hagerstown. He was on Hagerstown’s flag stand and got to wave the checkered when Andy drove to his first two wins.
There are so many stories in Fries’ past that could entertain people for hours but one thing for sure, even though he wasn’t running the higher dollar equipment that some of his competitors did, they always knew Fries and his #82 were there battling for the lead.
Fries joins several of his former competitors and previous inductees: Buddy Armel, Denny Bonebrake, Larry Gorman, Sam Nally, Wayne Stouffer, Tom Peck, Jerry Hart, Frank Sagi, Dick Warrenfeltz, Bill Richards, Al Richards, Rodney Franklin, Stan Dillon and last year’s recipients, Mert Stine and Johnny Grum.
Promoter Frank Plessinger released the tentative 2010 schedule which will get under way with the Race –A-Rama on Wednesday, February 24th with the first racing program that Saturday, the 27th. Weather permitting, the opener will feature the Octoberfest Qualifier for the big block modifieds and late models.
Promoter Plessinger and the speedway staff wish everyone a safe and very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and look forward to everyone being able to joins us in 2010.
For all the up to date news, the 2010 schedule, driver information and more, check out the speedway’s website at www.hagerstownspeedway.com.
2009 Final Point Standings
Late Models: 1.Roy Deese, 2318; 2.Frankie Plessinger, 2317; 3.Jim Yoder, 2256; 4.Marvin Winters, 2208; 5.Mike Lupfer, 2088; 6.Steve Gibney, 1797; 7.Tyler Hershey, 1709; 8.Rick Hulson, 1677; 9.Devin Friese, 1660; 10.Andy Anderson, 1570
Hoosier Tire Late Model Sportsman: 1 .Kyle Lear, 3977; 2.Wayne Walls Jr, 3838; 3.Jerry Bard, 3645; 4.Glenn Elliott, 3643; 5.Ashley Barrett, 3530; 6.Andy Fries, 3439; 7.Scott Palmer, 3415; 8.Mike Walls, 3366; 9.Pete Weaver, 3288; 10.Michael Collins, 3250
Ernie D’s Pure Stocks: 1.Mike Warrenfeltz, 3805; 2.Darrin Younker, 3616; 3.Wayne Hawbaker, 3365; 4.Dave Stouffer Jr., 3209; 5.Hans Stamberg, 3209; 6.Billy Ecton, 3142; 7.Kevin Keefer, 3109; 8.Charlie Pensinger, 3091; 9.Danny Beavers, 3081; 10.Steve Lowery, 3069
WRT Speedwerx - Walls - Hagerstown Speedway 2009 Banquet 12/12/09