Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville is the home track for racing brothers Brian and Kevin Hirthler, and it’s been good to them. They both like the track’s competition and the high-intensity from its smaller size.
Both drivers guide Bicknell cars, but race in different classes. Kevin’s first season was in 1996, while Brian spent four years in quarter midgets and two in sportsman.
Last season, with two Top Five finishes and eight Top 10s, Brian drove away with Rookie of the Year honors. Meanwhile, Kevin earned two Top Fives and five Top Tens on his way to finishing 10th in the point standings. Although he posted only one win, it was a biggie for Kevin who took a $20,000 purse in the fabled Forrest Rogers Memorial.
Kevin’s most anticipated race is Grandview’s Freedom 76, because of the prestige and big purse. Brian looks forward to the 40-lap Thunder on the Hill ROC Sportsman race, the toughest on his schedule.
Although a win is always a precious memory, both Hirthlers have special moments they’ll never forget.
“The third race I was ever in, there was a pileup going into turn three,” says Brian. “It ended with a guy flipping over my hood so quick I didn’t know what happened. But I knew it wasn’t good.”
Kevin’s most memorable moment happened at a Maryland track in his career-best 2007 season during a 100-lap race. Starting 13th, he was sitting second after 50. “With a couple laps to go in the race, I passed the leader right in front of where my Dad was standing. I’ll never forget that.”
Although neither Hirthler is superstitious, Brian eats a Chicken Caesar Salad before a race and wears the same clothes to races. Of interest to Kevin is that he tends to do better when rain has fallen, winning the make-up after a rain-out. He points to his Forrest Rogers win after a very lengthy rain delay.
Competitive rivalries are common. “I don’t like being passed by anyone,” admits Brian. “But when I’m waiting for an opening and another car starts to challenge, it definitely gets me up on the wheel.” Kevin looks at the guys who taught him something about racing and says, “Craig von Dohren, Jeff Strunk and Duane Howard are the cream of the crop, and it feels good to race against them.”
Kevin Hirthler (Team 117 Racing #117) and Brian Hirthler (Brian Hirthler Racing #4*) are both sponsored by PPB Racing, the auto racing arm of Pioneer Pole Buildings, Inc., in Schuylkill Haven.