BIG DIAMOND’S REGULAR SEASON OPENER SIGNIFIES THE BEGINNING OF AUTO RACING IN THE COAL REGION…By Gary Lileck
Forestville, PA – March 23, 2008 – As the snow disappears from existence and Spring-like temperatures begin to climb, the town of Forestville anticipates another action packed season of dirt track auto racing. Big Diamond Raceway’s regular season opener is slated for Friday evening April 4.
When a competitor earns a feature win or an outstanding race performance on opening day, it sets the standard for a new season. Drivers in 358 Modified, Sportsman, and Roadrunner divisions have worked hard during the winter off-season months with hopes of earning an opening day headlining story. Their quest begins in less than two weeks.
Last year, Jeff Strunk of Mohnton PA began his championship producing season on the correct foot by earning a 358 Modified feature win in the season opener. Strunk won a total of four main events in ’07, and notched fifteen top-five finishes along the way. Actually, it was Strunk’s second straight season opener victory. He will try for three in a row on April 4.
The same could be said for Duane Howard. The accomplished Modified racer from Oley PA turned a pair of opening day wins (1990, 1998) into track championships. As a matter of fact, Howard has won four BDR season openers throughout his career. After running a part-time schedule last year, Howard and car owner Chad Sinon return in ’08 with a Troyer Chassis #4.
Former three-time point champion, Keith Hoffman of Whitehall PA, won the 1999 season opener. Ironically, it took place on April 4. He was also an opening day winner in 2000, an event that was pushed back and completed in late April due to bad weather issues. Hoffman has recently announced that he will steer the MAD Motorsports #11D Bicknell chassis with sponsorship help from Dennis "Moose" Eisenhard.
Area fan favorite car owner and former driver Franny Purcell Sr. enjoyed his taste of opening day success five years ago. It was considered an upset as Kevin Hartnett (in his first race for Purcell) drove to an opening day win on April 6, 2003. Purcell will open ’08 with his current driver Ryan Watt of Boyertown PA. The team has enjoyed vast success recently, including a late season feature win in 2007.
Big Diamond Opening Day has produced several memorable moments. On March 24, 1996 Ryan Bloom shocked the Modified world by capturing his first and only career feature win. He passed the speedway’s all-time win leader Craig Von Dohren en route to the thrilling victory. Several years earlier (April 27, 1984) Doug Hoffman edged current 410 Sprint-Car racer Fred Rahmer by about one foot at the line to record the photo finish victory.
Other past 358 Modified season opener winners who plan to compete at BDR this season include: Rick Laubach (2005), Kyle Weiss (2002), and Terry Meitzler (2001).
Last season’s Sportsman track champion Craig Whitmoyer and Roadrunner point king Tom Hablett each started the season with a feature victory, proving the importance of Opening Day luck. For two straight seasons, the Roadrunner first race winners (Hablett-2007, Kevin Holland-2006) have gone on to win the championship.
The war for the 2008 track championship indeed begins on Big Diamond’s traditional night of racing, Friday, April 4. A three division show of 358 Modifieds, Sportsman, and Roadrunners kick off the regular season in style. Gates open at 5:00PM with warm-ups starting at 7:15PM, and the first heat goes green at 7:45PM.
Of course the track’s first race of the season is just around the corner. The Big Block Modifieds will battle on Saturday March 29 in a 40-lap feature paying $4000 to the winner.
For upcoming events and news release from Big Diamond Raceway feel free to visit their official website at http://www.bigdiamondraceway.com