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Bits & Pieces
By: Linda Fennell
Reflections of the 25 Years of the Pittsburgher 100

A “Silver Anniversary” is always memorable and with the 2013 edition of The Pittsburgher 100 at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway many memories were brought back. After the announcement from NDRL's John Kennedy to resurrect the event back to its status of 10 years ago, there was plenty of buzz circulating through the dirt late model areas.

Pennsylvania Motor Speedway was the baby of its parents Nick & Emma Garin. It was Nick’s lifelong dream after the closing of local dirt track Heidelberg Speedway to build the track. The Garin’s love for Pittsburgh’s dirt auto racing grew at the facility each year. Then in 1989 the Garin Family created an event for dirt auto racing fans to cap off the season. The show paid more money and drew much interest from fans and drivers from around the country. Thus the Pittsburgher 100 was born. Pittsburgh is a great city with lots to do and its fans are very passionate about its sports venues. You don’t have to go far to talk about the Pirates, Pens and Steelers. Special events are also well attended so why not a pinnacle dirt auto race for its fans also. In 1989 with the announcement of the Inaugural Pittsburgher 100 there was plenty of buzz. Drivers and fans came long distances to compete or see one of the first high dollar payouts for the late models in our area.

During those 25 years fans got to see the best of the best late model drivers from near and far. In fact, from the hometown of Imperial, PA, just a few miles from the track, Davey “The Juice” Johnson holds the record of four Pittsburgher 100 victories going into the 2013 version. Scott Bloomquist from Mooreburg, TN had three victories in the record books.

As the years went by different sanctioning groups such as the World of Outlaws, Lucas Oil, MACS, and UFO have all been involved. Through those years times have changed for promoters, drivers and fans as the economy has affected all. With the passing of Emma Garin, the Miley Family, who also has the love and passion for local dirt auto racing, purchased the speedway. The Mileys continued the tradition of the annual Pittsburgher. Scheduling and Mother Nature can be quick to destroy events.

My memories were watching the inaugural Pittsburgher in the stands with my nephew Chad who then was six years old. He is now 30, is married and has a son. Add the Baker family whose children Frankie and Ariella are grown and leading their own lives as well as Jean & Walt Stasiak who are no longer with us. Those were special times but through the twenty-five years this race has lost some of its luster.

Besides Scott Bloomquist and Davey Johnson who now have four victories each, other winners were Bob Wearing Jr., Donnie Moran (2), Tim Hitt (2), Rick Aukland (2), Todd Andrews, Chub Frank, Matt Urban, Bart Hartman (2), Shane Clanton, Josh Richards, Steve Baker, Keith Barbara, and Gregg Satterlee.

In 2013 along came NDRL's John Kennedy. He and the Miley Family came to an agreement where the 25th Silver Anniversary Pittsburgher would take place the second week in October. The silver celebration would consist of two completely packed shows. The Friday NDRL portion would pay $10,000 with $25,000 going to the Saturday Pittsburgher 100 winner. In addition, the NDRL 2013 point champion would be crowned. Joining the NDRL late models would be the RUSH Late Models and the UEMS mod series.

Shortly after their announcement the buzz for this event started. Twenty-five years after its inaugural show, and many changes to the economy and dirt track auto racing, fans had much to be excited about in our area. Again the buzz was circulating among drivers and fans for this second weekend show in October.

During the years from 1989 and 2012 the top prize monies fluctuated from $20,000 to win down to $7,000, while ticket prices increased just like postage stamps at $.25 in 1989 to $.46 today. Also gasoline in 1989 was $1.12 a gallon to current costs of $3.49. Around half of the original 1989 drivers are not active. Drivers like Freddy Smith and others who have retired after their Hall of Fame careers and Jack Boggs who is gone but never forgotten. Jack’s son, Jackie set fast time on Saturday. He told a DirtonDirt reporter that he has not had much luck this season, but was wearing his lucky 1996 model racing uniform.

Friday night’s race had Jason Feger from Bloomington, IL dazzling the crowd with his strong run. Feger, who was driving a Bob Pierce chassis, was making his first appearance with the NDRL Series. Josh Richards finished second after a heated battle with series point leader Billy Moyer who faded to fourth. Dale McDowell rode home in third after making his first run in ten years at Dirt’s Monster Half Mile. Eddie Carrier rounded out the top five. Keith Barbara was the top local driver finishing ninth. Other locals making the dance on Friday were Gregg Satterlee (12th), Mason Zeigler (15th), Alex Ferree (19th), Davey Johnson (21st), Michael Norris (22nd), Mike Knight (24th) and Chub Frank (25th).

On Friday problems started early for Scott Bloomquist as his distributor malfunctioned after just a half of hot lap. The problem forced the team to unload their back-up car. The Friday night crowd was a good one as usually high school football rules on that day. Alex Ferree was disqualified for the height of his rear deck spoiler after winning heat number one. Crate late model driver Colton Flinner moved up to the late model ranks to compete in his first Pittsburgher. Colton was thrilled racing with the drivers he grew up watching. He follows his uncle John into the Pittsburgher record books. Garrett Krummert debuted a new Swartz chassis under his #29, Audie Swartz was on hand to help turn the wrenches. Jackie Boggs was forced to the pits with motor woes after climbing to fourth in the feature.

NDRL provided much entertainment with fireworks both nights. There were flaming pyrotechnics that amazed everyone, a driver wiffle ball game, a visit from the Pirate Parrot, a driver autograph session, and a concert by country music star Cody McCarver.

The Pittsburgher should have had more local support and the fact that it did not get it was sad. The fact that it is the end of the season, projected race costs and that many are out of parts and motors reflect the sign of the times. Fans were treated to a stellar field as drivers from ten different states took the green for the 100-lapper. Ten different drivers representing sixteen Pittsburgher victories were signed into the pits. Past winner Rick Aukland was also there but was driving an emod. This turnout shows just how strong the history is for the event. The 4-wide parade lap always gives me goosebumps.

Scott Bloomquist and Billy Moyer led the field to the green. Moyer was the early leader until Bloomquist took over on lap 12. There were lots of battles between drivers throughout the race. Bloomquist, Moyer and Jason Feger ran top three until Feger drove his #25 to the pits with engine troubles. Kent Robinson driving the #7R finished 6th on Friday and 3rd Saturday night for a great performance from a driver with very few laps at the track. Eddie Carrier Jr. was fourth while Rick Eckert collected fifth place monies.

The best local driver was Gregg Satterlee (6th) followed by Mason Zeigler (11th), Jared Miley (12th), Brandon Burgoon (13th), John Garvin (17th), Alex Ferree (19th), Chub Frank (21st), Keith Barbara (23rd), and Davey Johnson (24th).

In victory lane icon Scott Bloomquist talked about leaving the Lucas Oil Series during the season. He told the crowd that he is working with Penske Shocks. Keeping up with change requires staying quiet as new things were tested. Scott likes the big track of PPMS and thanked his fans for welcoming him during the activities in the vendors’ area earlier in the day. He turned his fastest lap on his final go around. Winner of the inaugural Pittsburgher, he now has claimed the Silver Anniversary title also.

NDRL crowned their 2013 point champion and awarded Billy Moyer with the title check of $20,000. Moyer was quick to thank John Kennedy for putting the NDRL Series together. He was appreciative of the high dollar events that were run this season. Moyer told the crowd that you need to bring your A-Game when you race at PPMS, Dirt’s Monster Half Mile. He also compared the Pittsburgher 100 event to the World 100 at Eldora Speedway. What a great compliment.

I am sure NDRL John Kennedy found things he would like to tweak that may have popped up behind the scenes. For their efforts of resurrecting this event, Mr. Kennedy and his staff should be commended. Their hard work brought the NDRL a great crowd.

For this writer it brought back wonderful memories and created special new ones. Comments can be emailed to:

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