The Hill Speedway in Monroeton Pa. kicked off it’s 2020 racing season in a big way Saturday evening hosting 110 race teams and a near record group of fans looking for real racing action to end the winter and springtime quiet.
After a very competitive and exciting round of 8 lap qualifying races for all divisions, the starting lineups for the 20 lap features were set and competitors from all over the twin tiers set out to do their best on the tricky quarter mile dirt oval, most driving in their first event of the 2020 season.
First on the card were the Rear Wheel Drive Four Cylinders. Larry Colton took the early lead, with a four car battle for second waging behind him, but mechanical woes ruined Colton’s run before the midpoint. Scott Bump took command, and Eric Ellsworth, who had started eighth was soon putting the pressure on. After a couple laps working to the inside, Ellworth made a run to the high side as the leader was trapped by a lap car on the inside, and took command, leading the way to the finish. Robert Decker, who started last on the field, turned a heads up steady run unto a runnerup finish, with Randy Mathews a close third. Brett Gleason recorded fourth and Bump recovered from the lap car contact to finish fifth.
FEATURE FINISH: Eric Ellsworth, Robert Decker, Randy Mathews, Brett Gleason, Scott Bump, Mike Navone, Stan Mathews, Andrew Collins, Larry Colton, A. J. Lane, Shane Rockwell.
Twenty six cars signed for the Snell Matalfab Crate Sportsman competition, and all twenty six were lined up for the feature race. Early issues included an eight car pileup in turn one that ended up sidelining three cars, but through the early going third generation pilot Tony Harris had the field in tow from his pole position start. Kinser Hill, Kreg and Greg Crooker, and Dave Mayo provided the early competition at the front, but eighth place starter Phil Vigneri was soon on Harris’s bumper. Vignan completed the takeaway and started to open a gap, as Harris, Hill and Kreg Crooker debated second. While much of the action was near the front, a lot of fans were watching Ted Morseman. Morseman started twenty third, and was solidly in the top ten by the midpoint. In the closing laps Morseman battled his way past Hill for fourth, but ran out of laps to challenge further. Harris held off Crooker for second.
FEATURE FINISH: Phil Vigneri, Tony Harris, Kreg Crooker, Ted Morseman, Kinser Hill, Conner Brown, Rich Talada, Rich Powell, Dalton Maynard, David Mayo, Isabel Barron, Carter Crooker, Steve Lyle, Bobby Burch, Troy Conrad, Cayden Lawson, Tracy Dunn, Brandon Fritch, Chris Clemens, Braden Buchannan, AJ Potrzebowski, Blake Lawson, Greg Crooker, Quinten Buchanan, Jason Benjamin, Danielle Thomas
Next up were the always exciting Street Stocks. With defending champion and multi time feature winner Earl Zimmer drawing a front row start position, many probably though this one was over at the start…they were wrong, as Zimmer barely put this one in the win column. Brett Crawford, Brandon Birdsall, Jakub Ingham, and Mike Koser kept the pressure on early, not allowing Zimmer to get away. Crawford, Ingham, and Koser experienced problems, but by the midpoint, Curt Stebbins and Brett Marlatt had replaced them and kept the pressure on. As that trio debated the lead, Doug Stack Jr, Birdsall, Oliver Gage, and Doug Stack Sr. battled for the bottom half of the top five just a few car lengths back. As the field came to the white flag, Stebbins suddenly pulled off to the pits, and Marlatt pulled close. Down the back straight Marlatt set up the pass, nosing to the inside as the pair swung through turns three and four. Zimmer won the side by side charge to the checkered flag by less than a fender length. Stack Jr. recorded third, over Birdsall and Gage.
FEATURE FINISH: Earl Zimmer, Brett Marlatt, Doug Stack Jr., Brandon Birdsall, Oliver Gage, Abe Romanick, Doug Stack Sr., Kane Stebbins, Mike Koser, Jakub Ingham, John McAdam, Hank Buchanan, Curt Stebbins, Brett Crawford, Dustin Maynard, Josh Wilcox, Trevor Williams, Eddie McKernan, Bobby Maynard.
Eighteen Front Wheel Drive Four Cylinders took the green for their feature, and the competition all through the field was fierce throughout the 20 lap event. Cody Baker, Dayton Smith, Burt Maynard, Nick Brown, Ethan Decker, and John Maynard were all players in the ealy going, but the driver on the move was Scott Lehman Jr. Lehman fell back early, but made his way back to the front, clearly one of the fastest cars on the track. In the closing laps, Lehman bid for the lead, and once out front, held off all challenges. Smith held onto the runnerup spot, with Burt Maynard third at the line. Nick Brown went to the rear of the field on one caution, but raced his way back to fourth, and John Maynard capped a steady run to finish fifth.
FEATURE FINISH: Scott Lehman, Dayton Smith, Burt Maynard, Nick Brown, John Maynard, Todd McClain, Ethan Decker, Cody Baker, Charles Mathews, Dalton Mathews, Brett Neely, Greg Slater, Brad Benjamin, Matt Browning, Howard Bailey, Tim Johnson, 36, Jake Lamphere
Stan Mathews and Mike Spencer brought the Pure Stock feature to the line, but Mathews night was short lived and he ended up as an early retiree. Spencer took over, but Mike Morse was quickly to the front from his eighth place starting spot, and easily maintained the lead throughout. Spencer, Les Smith, Kevin Garland, and Kacey McPherson entertained the crowd throughout the event as pretty evenly matched competitors for the remainder of the top five. Bobby Maynard joined that group, with the pack running side by side and swapping positions. Smith and McPherson succumbed to mechanical woes in the closing laps. Post race inspection denied Morse the win, with Garland moving into the win spot, with Maynard, Spencer, Smith, and McPherson moving up in the standings.
FEATURE FINISH: Kevin Garland, Bobby Maynard, Mike Spencer, Les Smith, Kacey McPerson, Zach Kriner, Bill Williams, Stan Mathews, Matt Sullivan, Jerry Fassett Jr.
Eddie Sites and Keith Jack Lamphere were a big part of the show in the IMCA style Modified throughout the entire feature, with Sites leading for the most part, and Lamphere on the edge of control and pullling even on a number of occasions. With J.W. Lamphere, Jake Maynard and Gary Lamphere running close to complete the top five. Ray McClure and Harry Ely joined that group as Maynard suffered a flat tire, and Gary Lamphere wet to the back on a caution, and on the restart, McClure and Ely overpowered J.W. , but it was still the Eddie and Keith Jack show at the front. Sites got the win, with Lamphere alongside at the line, and Maynard recovered with a solid third at the finish. Trey Palmer overpowered Ely at the flag to get fourth.
FEATURE FINISH: Eddie Sites, Keith Jack Lamphere, Jake Maynard, Ray McClure, Trey almer, Harry Ely, J.W. Lamphere, Keith Lamphere, Carl Wood, Aaron Benjamin, Gary Lamphere, Brad Sites, Sonny Terry, Jared Keeney, Jason Sullivan, Doug Lantz
The new Crate Late Model class had their debut as the last feature of the night, with only nine cars, but the competition was close throughout. John Waters led the field to complete lap one, but Steve LaBarron and Scott Wheeler were right on his bumper. Wheeler soon got the second spot, and Curt Stebbins slid by LaBarron for third. With Waters leading, the battle for second heated up just inches off his bumper, with Stebbins driving into second and Jimmy Johnson and Tim Schram joining the lead group. Stebbins tried everything he could think of, but Waters was picture perfect on every lap. Stebbins got under Waters coming off turn four on the last lap, but came up just short at the finish line. Johnson was third, Wheeler fourth, and LaBarron fifth.
FEATURE FINISH: John Waters, Curt Stebbins, Jimmy Johnson, Scott Wheeler, Steve LaBarron, Tim Schram, Darrin Horton, Joe Lane, T.J. Downs.
The Hill Speedway swings into action with points races starting on Friday, June 5th with a full schedule for all eight divisions. Pit and spectator gates open at 5pm, with practice at 6:30, and racing scheduled to get the green flag at 7:00.
The Hill Speedway hosts dirt track auto racing from Spring through the end of August. Unique in that it has no grandstands, fan viewing and family grouping is accomplished with blankets and portable chairs on a manicured hillside overlooking the track. Additional viewing is provided from turn four around to turn two with parking spots overlooking the raceway where fans can enjoy their own tailgate parties from there vehicle. Those spots are available on a nightly or seasonal basis for a nominal fee.