Rain wipes out half of weekend schedule
It may have just been a week but what a difference.
After two weeks of weather cancellations, the 2002 season finally got underway. Only Mercer Raceway Park was rained out this weekend, with Lernerville Speedway and Motordrome Speedway getting both of their shows in Friday night. Lernerville’s Pure Stock feature was, however, rained out just after midnight.
Following in the tracks of Lernerville and Motordrome, both Jennerstown and Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedways completed their scheduled events Saturday, despite early rain showers.
HAWKLEY: HIRED GUN
Jimmy Hawley drove the CIII Sprint Car for Doc Crawford to 62 wins and five track championships in four seasons. In 1999, Hawley won 21 features and titles at Lernerville, Mercer and Tri-City Speedway.
Hawley was back at Lernerville on Friday and now he’s splitting his time between two cars, one owned by Billy Shearer and his son Mike, and the other owned by Eric Smith. Smith and the younger Shearer have spent the past few years trying to get up to speed in the often cruel and very expensive world of Sprint Cars. Hawley was in Smith’s car Friday, but he was knocked out of the feature by a cut tire.
“I am really looking forward to this season,” Hawley said. “I had some calls to run some other people’s stuff but when you sit back and look at things, you have to try and put yourself in the best possible position as far as people and equipment goes to get the job done.”
Good equipment is something that Hawley will not have to worry about with either team. Both Shearer and Smith have top-flight equipment that just might need the fine-tuning of an experienced driver like Hawley and his setup man, Todd Palmer, to put them in front of the pack. As it looks now, Hawley will drive for Shearer for the big shows such as the World of Outlaws and the All-Star Sprints. He also will make time to drive for Smith, who is recovering from a dislocated ankle.
Hawley did mention a possible third option for this season but was not at liberty to divulge specifics. There also is the possibility that Smith can bring his other car on line, and the two can race on the same nights.
“Make no mistake about it, Mike is still the main driver,” Billy Shearer said. “My business, the tool and die business, in Pittsburgh now is horrendous. We were going to park the whole program for this year. When Jimmy heard that we were parking it for the year, he got in touch with us and he brought some sponsorship with him.
“We will try and chase the big money shows,” Shearer added. “Our equipment is (World of ) Outlaws caliber, and there is no doubt that Jimmy is Outlaw caliber too.”
For Smith, it’s a win-win situation as well. As he heals, he can look at what Palmer and Hawley do with the car and use it to his advantage in terms of gauging his own equipment. It’s one thing to ask questions and be told what to do with a setup, but it’s completely different to actually see it done and to help do it.
“Jimmy has always helped us with setup,” Smith said. “We’ve pitted next to each other the past couple of years, and he always helped us out a ton. There are so many changes that have to be done that you might only pick up a couple of things. You might see things 50 times before you finally pick it up and then all of a sudden you see it.”
Brutal is the best way to describe Saturday’s Hooters ProCup race at Jennerstown Speedway. The 250-lap feature event took an incredible three hours and 13 minutes to run. Early rain canceled qualifying and pushed the starting time back two hours.
There were 24 cautions from start to finish. Mardy Lindley eventually took the checkered flag, followed by Jay Fogleman.
Jeff Dunmyer of Friedens did well in his ProCup debut and finished 11th out of 41 cars — one lap down.
Apollo’s Ryan Hemphill started 22nd and finished fifth. That was not so much the story as was the fact that Hemphill had just one crew member, Brad Little, on hand to get the car ready to race. The rest of Hemphill’s crew presumed racing would be canceled due to the early rain.