Sarver, PA (Jan 25, 2020) A night of celebration ensued at the Brackenridge Heights Golf Course on Saturday night as the 2019 Lernerville Speedway awards banquet took center stage. Four deserving track champions were crowned and an impressive 2019 Hall of Fame Class was inducted plus the annual special awards were received by their respective winners as a night of food, fun and reflection on the 2019 season was enjoyed by all in attendance.
Hall of Fame Welcomes New Class
The Lernerville Speedway Hall of Fame saw it’s numbers grow with the induction of four new members on Saturday as Rod George, Ed Ferree, Jim Magill and Dunk Pakozdi etched their names into history thanks to their skill, perseverance and contributions over the years. George garnered 45 feature victories at The Action Track and compiled three track titles in his career which spanned from the early 1980’s until several years ago in Sprint Car competition. George may very well have added to those impressive totals, but elected to do some traveling from time to time in central, PA and with the All Star Circuit of Champions.
Ed Ferree amassed 21 feature wins in Late Model action at Lernerville in a long career that also saw him race in high profile asphalt racing series such a ARCA and the Busch Grand National Series as well. Ferree managed back to back track championships in 1985 and 1986 and served as car owner for multi-time Late Model champion Alex Ferree as well. His impact on the local racing community runs deeper than just racing and owning cars however as he serves as owner of Franklin Racing Supply and ADC Die Cast Collectibles.
Jim Magill got his start in racing in the early 1960s when he began driving in the old coupe class at the now departed Butler Speedway and other tracks around the area. He and his dad Blair teamed together to field a Ford coupe of about 1932 vintage with a big GMC truck engine under the hood. The car was painted black with a white roof and carried the number 711. Magill was successful in those early years, winning his share of races when the coupes were limited to flathead Ford and six-cylinder engines. In the mid-sixties he and his dad made the jump to Sprint Cars. He also drove for noted Sprint Car owner Jim Zeigler in the #71 car. He took a really nasty flip in that car one night at Mercer and never returned to the Sprint Cars. However, despite his somewhat limited time in the Sprint Cars he was able to win three races at Lernerville and once at Mercer. Then after some time off, Magill put together another coupe, but this time a 1934 Ford with a small block Chevy V-8. It was with that car in the 1970s that he had his best years winning 39 races at six different tracks. However, Jim Magill didn’t walk away from the sport as he became a pit steward at Lernerville where he worked until a few years back. By profession, Jim Magill was a school teacher and was known to racing fans as the “Flying School Teacher”.
The 2019 season welcomed two new names that appeared on the historic list of track champions when all was said and done following the final Fab4 Friday night revved up with Marburger Farm Dairy as both Ken Schaltenbrand and Tyler Dietz took their place at the head table on Saturday night.
The pair were joined by Jack Sodeman Jr. and Brian Swartzlander who battled a hungry pack of drivers at the front of the division standings until the final checkered flag flew on Championship Night. For Schaltenbrand, in the Precise Racing Products Late Models, it was a particularly sweet season that saw the pieces for the title fall into place with a combination of driver skill, luck and determination and his patience was rewarded after a 20 plus year racing career that had seen him at the front of the fields more often than not, but never yielded a championship. Schaltenbrand garnered one feature victory on the season and was amazingly consistent in his other weekly appearances and was able to nail down the title one week before the final night of racing action.
Dietz had been one of three drivers that seemingly battled tooth and nail every Friday night for supremacy in the Millerstown Pic-A-Part Pro Stocks for the past two plus seasons as both he, six time track champion Corey McPherson and Joey Zambotti were the cars normally found at the front of the order, putting on one amazing show after another. Dietz had come up just a handful of points away from his first track title a year ago and came into championship night with the points lead unlike a year previous. He did what he had to do to clinch his first track championship on that final night and stopped McPherson’s title streak which had been interrupted just once in the past seven seasons. He did so with amazing attention to detail, and precision driving that saw him come away with good points nights when the car was not 100% and also gave him a chance to win virtually every Friday night when the car was at it’s best.
Jack Sodeman managed his second career track championship in 2019, his first coming in 2016, and was methodical and opportunistic in doing so. Sodeman managed three feature wins in the past season and took those wins at the right times including twice when defending champion AJ Flick had his two worst points nights of the year. Sodeman put nearly all other feature finishes on the podium and was a model of consistency throughout the season en route to his second title.
‘Flyin’ Brian Swartzlander is no stranger to track titles having won seven of them coming into the 2019 season, but they had been harder to earn in recent years as Rex King Jr. and Mat Williamson made decisions to call the Action Track home over the course of the past six years, making for an amazingly stout top of the weekly field roster. The driver was more than capable of reclaiming his old turf once again, but the car and team rose to the occasion in 2019 and together, they helped Swartzlander forge an eighth track title. Swartzlander was consistent and avoided disaster and mechanical gremlins while pegging restarts and racing as hard and as clean as he can, the trademarks of the DIRTcar Hall of Fame driver were prevalent throughout his season run. It was a season that saw him edge King Jr. by 10 points when all was said and done in the regular season, and saw him add to his impressive list of achievements.
In other special awards presented on the night, Jim Morris, Colton Flinner, Chris Rudolph and Mike Bordt came away with Most Improved Driver award in their respective divisions while Mike Pegher Jr. came away with the Hard Luck Award for 2019. Tyler Dietz added to his trophy cabinet with the annual Sportsman award due to his clean, hard fought and hard raced rivalry with McPherson and willingness to help others. Meanwhile, Late Model driver Jayme Beck and Sprint driver Sadie Siegel came away with the annual milestone awards becoming the first females to finish in the top 10 of season point standings in track history. Bill Kiley came away with the annual Golden Award and Late Model competitor Kelvin Kohan was named Lernerville Rookie of the Year for 2019.
Coming up next on the calendar of events will be the annual Clearview Mall Car Show in March. Check back for dates and details which will be forthcoming very shortly.
Most Improved Driver/Peoples Gas DIRTcar Sprints- Jim Morris
Most Improved Driver/Precise Racing Products DIRTcar Late Models- Colton Flinner
Most Improved Driver/ Diehl Automotive DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds- Chris Rudolph
Most Improved Driver/Millerstown Pic-a-Part DIRTcar/RUSH Pro Stocks- Mike Bordt
Hard Luck Award- Mike Pegher Jr.
Sportsmanship Award- Tyler Dietz
Keith Burke Appreciation Award- Gary Spangler
Bob Cochran Sponsorship Award- Marburger Farm Dairy
Bill Steinbach Media Award- Cowboy Curt Hughes
Grover Clasper Award- Ed Tabitz
Milestone in Racing Sward- Sadie Siegel and Jayme Beck
Golden Award- Bill Kiley
Lernerville Rookie of the Year Award- Kelvin Kohan