Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway Gala Salutes Top Point Earners & Special Award Winners
by BARRY ANGSTADT
Landisville, PA - The date was November 19, and the setting was the Banquet Room at the Four Seasons Golf Course in Landisville, Pa. as Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway officially crowned its 2016 Point Champions, saluted the top 15 in points in each of the five weekly divisions, and revealed the names of this season's Special Awards recipients.
The new track champions headed the list of award winners, with Heath Hehnly (600cc), Mike Rutherford (270cc), Dan Lane Jr. (Sportsman), Jarrett Imler (250cc Four-Stroke), and William Manotti (125cc) receiving championship hardware and cash.
Manheim's Heath Hehnly captured his fifth point title in the 600cc Class and in doing so, he rewarded car owner Chris Snyder with his first car owner's championship. The Hehnly/Snyder duo teamed up for the very first time in 2016, and their initial season was one of incredible consistency. Hehnly notched just a single point-paying victory (though he also won the non-point Labor Day Shootout for winged 600's) but never finished lower than eighth in a feature that awarded championship points. There were no DNF's for the Hyper Racing, Bud's Spring & Suspension, Spar Racing Engines No. 83 during the course of the season.
Hehnly's fifth point title in the 600cc division broke a tie with Mike Rutherford for the most championships in that class. This title proved to be bittersweet for Hehnly, however, as he lost his father, Rodney, to cancer just a few days before the banquet.
Kyle Spence, Bradley Brown, Zach Light, and Chris Gerhart finished second through fifth in the final 600cc point standings.
For the past five years, on the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving, Mike Rutherford has been introduced as Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway's 270cc point champion. This year's fifth consecutive title, and his sixth overall in the 270cc Class, was earned on the basis of five feature wins and a slew of top-ten finishes for the driver from Lititz, Pa. Rutherford clinched this year's point crown one week before the season finale`, wrapping up another successful campaign aboard the Kaylor Petro, JP Mascaro No. 5k for championship car owner Ken Kaylor.
Rutherford out-pointed Bradley Brown, Kyle Spence, Billy Logeman, and Nick Skias in claiming yet another 270cc track title.
Dan Lane Jr., the West Chester University student from Elverson, Pa., drove two cars to the winner's circle as he recorded the Sportsman point championship in 2016. Both cars were owned by Mike Rutherford, but Lane spent most of the season in the white No. 6, while teammate Tyler Ulrich gassed the No. 5k.
Lane's first point title under the Lanco banner was earned by amassing 12 top-ten finishes in 15 point-paying events, and 11 of those efforts ended inside the top five. On the final night, with the championship already locked up, Lane put the icing on the cake by scoring his third Sportsman triumph of the season.
Dave Ravel wound up second in points, followed by Ulrich, Sheena Schaefer, and Toby Blumenshine.
Jarrett Imler, the teenaged leadfoot from Leola, captured his first Clyde Martin crown in the 250cc Four-Stroke Class. Entering the final night of competition in September, Imler held a narrow lead over Kassidy Michael. Imler produced a runner-up finish in the year's last main event, while Michael was an unfortunate DNF.
Imler, wheeling the Lancaster Archery/ Tom Rumsey Contracting No. 17, registered just one victory during the season, but he was a model of consistency with seven finishes of third and almost as many second place efforts. And he never finished lower than seventh in his run to the Four-Stroke title. His father Dennis was recognized as the champion car owner in the Four-Stroke Class.
Michael, who doubled her workload by competing in the Four-Stroke and 600cc divisions in 2016, wound up second in the Four-Stroke standings. Zak Vickers, Eddie Nocera, and rookie Andrew Potts finished third through fifth in points.
For the first few months of the 2016 slate of events at the Clyde, the 125cc championship chase was a tight one between William Manotti and Justin Harrington. The two wheel-twisters took turns winning features early in the season, with each driver scoring a pair of triumphs during the first half of the schedule. Then Manotti caught fire, reeling off six consecutive victories beginning on July 16. His streak did not end until the second weekend of September, and all those wins put him far enough out front in the point battle that neither Harrington or anyone else could offer a serious challenge in the final two events.
Manotti, from Lancaster, Pa., drove his Kelly Cadillac No. 77 to the championship, his first under the Lanco banner. He closed the season with a total of eight victories, five runner-up results, and a single third-place effort in his drive to the 125cc title. He gave much of the credit to his dad, William IV, who picked up the hardware as the 125cc car owner champion.
Justin Harrington, Corey Schmuck Jr., Austin Graby, and Brandon Gibble made up the second through fifth place drivers in the final 125cc point standings.
Lanco Club President Jim Harrington presented Chris Snyder with this year's President's Award. Snyder has supported the club as a driver, car owner, and as a Board member for many years. As Harrington so aptly stated, "Chris lives, sleeps, and breathes Lanco...and this club is better off because of his efforts."
Banquet attendees dined on a delicious buffet as they perused the tentative 2017 racing schedule that was lying on their tables. The schedule shows the "preseason opener" on April 1st, when the wingless 600cc and wingless 270cc Micro-Sprints join the ARDC Midgets for the second annual No Wing Spring Fling at Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. Preseason inspection and practice for all weekly divisions will be held at the track on the same day as the No Wing Spring Fling. The first point race for the winged 600cc, 270cc, Sportsman, 125cc, and 250cc Four-Stroke Micros will take place on Saturday, April 8.
The 2016 Special Award Winners appear below...
Rookie of the Year:
Sportsman - Kane Rogers/ 125cc - Tyler Hershey/ Four-Stroke - Cliff Brian Jr. & Andrew Potts/ 270cc - None/ 600cc - None.
Hard Luck Award:
Sportsman - Angelo Mercado/ 125cc - Austin Graby/ Four-Stroke - Eddie Nocera/ 270cc - Dan Lane Jr./ 600cc - Will Urkuski.
Most Improved Driver:
Sportsman - Anthony Yerger/ 125cc - Corey Schmuck Jr./ Four-Stroke - Mike Coen/ 270cc - Nick Sweigart & Mike Skias/ 600cc - Ryan Groff.
Shred Photos Best Appearing Car:
Sportsman - Alan Durham/ 125cc - Austin Graby/ Four-Stroke - Zak Vickers/ 270cc - Christi Sweigart/ 600cc - Chris Panczner.
Mark Geib Sportsman of the Year Award:
Sportsman - Toby Blumenshine/ 125cc - Jas Hehnly/ Four-Stroke - Jarrett Imler/ 270cc - Bradley Brown/ 600cc - Zach Light.