Story By: BRETT DEYO / GEORGETOWN SPEEDWAY – GEORGETOWN, DE – Four years, four different winners. The Melvin L. Joseph Memorial – honoring a man who excelled in both the Delaware business and motorsports realms – celebrates its fifth running Friday-Saturday March 6-7 at Georgetown Speedway, the half-mile oval Mr. Joseph constructed in 1949 and opened in March 1950.
Annually, the Melvin L. Joseph Memorial at Georgetown serves as the Northeast opener for the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco Modifieds.
This year, the 49-lap main event offers $10,049 to the winner: Delaware’s richest Modified race! The event also kicks off the championship battle for the eight-race STSS Velocita-USA South Region presented by Design for Vision and Sunglass Central championship worth $10,000 at year-end.
In four years of the Melvin L. Joseph Memorial, a quartet of drivers have found STSS Modified glory. Each edition has produced its share of story lines.
2016: On March 12, 2016 New York’s Anthony Perrego became the first Short Track Super Series Melvin L. Joseph Memorial winner at Georgetown Speedway. Perrego, driving the New York Truck Parts No. 55, took over the lead when Jeff Strunk broke a right-rear axle with 10 laps remaining. Perrego then held off 17th-starter David Van Horn Jr., early pace setter Andy Bachetti, Ryan Godown and Jordan Watson to take the $5,229 win.
2016 Melvin L. Joseph Memorial STSS Modified Feature Finish (49 laps): ANTHONY PERREGO, David Van Horn Jr., Andy Bachetti, Ryan Godown, Jordan Watson, Craig Von Dohren, Matt Sheppard, Stewart Friesen, Brett Kressley, Rick Laubach, Ryan Watt, Billy Pauch Jr., Shawn Ward, Brad Trice, Danny Creeden, Mike Franz, Jamie Mills, Jimmy Horton, Michael Barone, Billy Pauch, Jeff Strunk, Doug Manmiller, Duane Howard, H.J. Bunting III, Richie Pratt Jr., Corey Anderson, Matt Hawkins, Kevin Sockriter, Craig Hanson, Neal Williams.
Did Not Qualify: Brian Malcolm, Kevin Gardner, Norman Short, Ryan Krachun, Howard O’Neal, Matt Jester, Eric Vent, Clay Tatman, Kyle Merkel, Steve Davis, Kevin Hirthler, Beau Wilkins, Scott Van Gorder.
2017: With temperatures in the 30s, Friday night show showers and 25 mile-per-hour winds, the 2017 Melvin L. Joseph Memorial went off as a Saturday afternoon program on March 11. As the Area Auto Racing News front page read, “Georgetown Beats the Weather, Jimmy Horton Bests the Field.” On lap 16, Horton ducked three-wide beneath both Ryan Watt and Billy Pauch Sr. in turn three to take a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. Horton went on to win over Watt, Pauch Sr., Duane Howard and 21st-starter David Van Horn Jr.
2017 Melvin L. Joseph Memorial STSS Modified Feature Finish (49 laps): JIMMY HORTON, Ryan Watt, Billy Pauch, Duane Howard, David Van Horn, Tyler Dippel, Jordan Watson, Frank Cozze, Brett Kressley, Jamie Mills, Andy Bachetti, Rick Laubach, Ron Roberts, Michael White, Clay Tatman, Billy Pauch Jr., Shawn Ward, Ryan Godown, Richie Pratt Jr., Jeff Brown, Jim Britt, Craig Hanson, Jeremy Smith, Stewart Friesen, Danny Johnson, Dillon Steuer, Scott Van Gorder, Kevin Sockriter, Matt Jester, H.J. Bunting III.
Did Not Qualify: Norman Short, Brian Hitz.
2018: The new progressively banked Georgetown Speedway layout made its debut on March 17, 2018 for the Melvin L. Joseph Memorial and eventual race winner Ryan Watt utilized every inch of the clay track. With 20 laps to go, Watt’s car slipped off the top of turn three. Somehow, he lost only one position. Late in the race, Watt stalked Matt Sheppard in lapped traffic, passing ‘Super Matt’ with only four laps remaining in the 49-lap race. Sheppard settled for second, with David Van Horn Jr. (up from 11th), Billy Decker and Billy Pauch Jr. completing the front five.
2018 Melvin L. Joseph Memorial STSS Modified Feature Finish (49 laps): RYAN WATT, Matt Sheppard, David Van Horn, Billy Decker, Billy Pauch Jr., Duane Howard, Craig Von Dohren, Billy Pauch, Stewart Friesen, Anthony Perrego, Andy Bachetti, Danny Bouc, Wade Hendrickson, Carson Wright, Dan Creeden, Tyler Boniface, Rick Laubach, Scott Van Gorder, Scott Hitchens, Ron Roberts, Mike Gular, Jordan Watson, Joseph Watson, Jamie Mills, Mark Byram, Ryan Godown, Danny Johnson, Doug Manmiller, Jimmy Horton, Danny Varin, Jim Britt.
Did Not Qualify: H.J. Bunting III, Brett Barrett, Michael White, Matt Stangle, Jeremy Smith, Matt Janiak, Kevin Gardner, Brian Hitz, Allison Ricci, Russell Morseman II, Jack Lehner, Brad Trice, Craig Hanson, Norman Short, Jeff Strunk, Brett Kressley.
2019: Strong winds, bright sun and no humidity made tire wear the story on March 16, 2019 for the Melvin L. Joseph Memorial. Stewart Friesen ducked to the pit area during a lap-25 caution flag for fresh rubber and watched as his competitors, one-by-one, dropped off the pace with flat right-rear tires. Just five laps after his pit stop, Friesen re-assumed the lead and put his name on the race’s win list. After leading the race at one point, Matt Sheppard rallied to second, with Ryan Watt, Billy Pauch Jr. and Jordan Watson crossing the line third through fifth, respectively.
2019 Melvin L. Joseph Memorial STSS Modified Feature Finish (49 laps): STEWART FRIESEN, Matt Sheppard, Ryan Watt, Billy Pauch Jr., Jordan Watson, Jeff Strunk, Duane Howard, Craig Von Dohren, David Van Horn Jr., Alex Yankowski, Demetrios Drellos, Richie Pratt Jr., Mike Gular, Andy Bachetti, Brandon Grosso, H.J. Bunting III, Allison Ricci, Ryan Krachun, Matt Stangle, Ryan Godown, Jimmy Horton, Billy Pauch, Wade Hendrickson, Billy Decker, Joseph Watson, Anthony Perrego, Danny Johnson, Tim Fuller, Mike Mahaney, Rick Laubach, Danny Bouc.
Did Not Qualify: Michael Maresca, Craig Hanson, Kevin Sockriter, Roger Manning, Scott Van Gorder, Roger Henion Jr., Kevin Gardner, Todd Neiheiser, Robbie Emory, Ryan Riddle, Ron Roberts Jr., Mike Franz, Jordn Justice, Sammy Martz, Bobby DeLeon.
The Melvin L. Joseph Memorial fires Georgetown Speedway’s ’20 season to life with two nights of racing.
Friday night (March 6) gets the weekend underway with a Small-Block Modified (max 370 cubic inches) main paying $4,049 to win for 30 laps. Also on the docket: RUSH Late Models (20 laps, $1,049 to win), Delmarva Chargers and Delaware Super Trucks both going 12-lap distances.
STSS Modifieds and Crate 602 Sportsman will take part in practice rounds with the two drivers recording the fastest laps in each division guaranteed into Saturday’s Beyea Custom Headers redraws.
On Friday, pit gates open at 3 p.m., grandstand gates unlock at 5 p.m., with hot laps 6:20 p.m. and racing gets underway at 7:15 p.m.
Friday grandstand admission is $25 (Adults); $20 for Seniors (ages 65 and up) and Students (ages 13-17); $10 Kids (ages 9-12); and Children 8 and under FREE.
Friday pit admission is $35 (ages 13 and up). Kids (ages 6-12) pay $10. Children 5 and under pay $2.
On Saturday (March 7), the Velocita-USA South Region presented by Design for Vision and Sunglass Central opener is set for the STSS big-block/small-block Modifieds. The 49-lap main offers a whopping $10,049 plus bonuses and $490 to take the green flag.
STSS Crate 602 Sportsman competitors kick off their STSS South Region in a 25-lap feature paying $1,490 to the victor. Southern Delaware Vintage Stock Cars, Delmarva Chargers and Delaware Super Trucks, each running 12-lap features, complete the program.
Auto racing icon Ken Schrader will be on hand serving at the Grand Marshal for the Melvin L. Joseph Memorial.
On Saturday, pit and grandstand gates unlock at 2 p.m. Hot laps hit the track at 4 p.m., with racing at 5 p.m.
Saturday grandstand admission is $25 (Adults); $20 Seniors (ages 65 and up) and Students (ages 13-17); $10 Kids (ages 9-12); and Children 8 and under FREE.
Saturday pit admission is $40 (ages 13 and up). Kids (ages 6-12) pay $10. Children 5 and under pay $2.
Melvin L. Joseph Memorial weekend passes are available at $45 (Adult Grandstand), $35 (Senior/Student Grandstand), $15 (Kid Grandstand) and $70 (pit area ages 13 and up).