The first track champions of the renovated facility known as the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA, located on the Kutztown Fairgrounds, were officially crowned Jan. 4, during an awards banquet held inside Building 24 at The Works in Wyomissing.
Kenny Brightbill (Sunoco USAC SpeedSTR), Jay Hartman (Pioneer Pole Building Wingless 600cc Micro-Sprints), Danny Buccafusca (NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots), and Ross Perchak (270cc Micro-Sprints) were honored as the first point champions under the Action Track USA banner and co-promoters Rich Tobias and Doug Rose.
Brightbill, the dirt Modified legend who admitted during the awards festivities that he’s been racing for the past 46 years, made his first season behind the wheel of a SpeedSTR a most memorable one. The former Shillington Slingshot, now living in Reinholds, thrilled the fans week in and week out with his patented charges to the front of the field while utilizing the high side of the clay oval.
Though he was only able to record one feature win, Brightbill registered an incredibly consistent string of top-five finishes (11 in the 13 races that made up the season at the Action Track USA) to notch the title by just 30 points over Billy Pauch Jr.
“I’ve been racing for 46 years, and these cars (SpeedSTR’s) are just like driving those early Modifieds at the Reading Fairgrounds,” said Brightbill as he explained how he adapted to the spec class so quickly. “You’ve got to finesse ‘em; really work the throttle to get ‘em around. I guess they kind of suit my style of driving.”
The veteran wheel-twister also revealed, without any hesitation, that he will return to defend his title when the 2014 campaign begins at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA.
“Oh yeah, we’ll be back to try it again. I really like racing on Wednesday nights; I get my racing fix and I can still do other things on the weekend.”
A few second generation racers finished behind Brightbill in the standings. Pauch Jr., Freddie Rahmer Jr., and Brandon Rahmer occupied positions two, three, and four, while World of Outlaws Late Model standout Rick Eckert, who led all drivers with four feature triumphs in 2013, wound up fifth in points.
Flagtown, NJ driver Jay Hartman captured the Pioneer Pole Buildings Wingless 600cc point title on the strength of two victories and eight top-five efforts. He charged to the head of the point parade in the final five events, leap-frogging over Kyle Lick and Brian Carber with finishes of first, third, fifth and a pair of runner-up placings.
Long known as the set-up man on his brother Jeff’s championship winning team, the 2013 point crown at Kutztown holds a very special meaning for Jay.
“It was great being part of Jeff’s titles, but to win this one as a driver - it’s my first Micro-Sprint championship - well, it really means a lot. And to win it against the caliber of competition that was at Kutztown every week...it’s just an incredible feeling.”
Kyle Lick recorded the most wins (three) in the division, and finished runner-up in the standings, just 28 points behind Hartman. Jeff Hartman, who won the previous three consecutive 600cc titles at the Kutztown Fairgrounds, finished third in the 2013 chase. Brian Carber and James Morris completed the top five in points.
Fourteen-year-old Danny Buccafusca, from Montague, NJ, drove the S&S Speedways No. 55 to the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshot Championship. The Rockaway Rocket picked up one feature victory during the season and registered nine top-fives in 12 starts.
It was a come from behind title winning effort for Buccafusca, who trailed defending track champ Brett Bieber and Larry Raifsnider with just a couple of races left to run. He finished as the runner-up in the second-to-last event of the season while Bieber and Raifsnider struggled and wound up deep in the field. Buccafusca jumped over them to grab the point lead, then secured his title with a fourth place finish in the season finale`.
During Saturday’s banquet, Buccafusca - who also won a second point crown at the Hamlin Speedway - tried to put the two championships in perspective.
“The two tracks are kind of polar opposites, but both are excellent dirt tracks and have terrific fan bases,” he noted. “They are very different, but have one thing in common...they are both run very well and draw big crowds. It’s an honor to win the championship at both speedways,” said Buccafusca, who is moving to the 600cc Micro-Sprint division for 2014.
Bieber, who secured a third straight National Slingshot title, finished second in the standings at the Action Track USA. Raifsnider, the opening night feature winner, ended up third with Travis Bieber and Cody Kline rounding out the top five in Slingshot points.
There’s a reason why he’s called “Ross the Boss”, as Hazleton’s Ross Perchak earned the fifth track championship of his career at the Kutztown Fairgrounds in 270cc Micro-Sprint competition.
Perchak, in his familiar Perchak Trucking/ RTS Chassis No. 4P, grabbed a pair of checkered flags during the campaign and never finished outside the top five. Three runner-up efforts, combined with four, third-place finishes were enough to clinch another title for the veteran of the 270cc division, as he beat four-time feature winner and 2012 Kutztown Champion Jarid Kunkle by 21 points.
“Oh yeah, every championship is special,” said Perchak, “because they’re so hard to win and you never know if this might be the last one you’ll win. The competition doesn’t get any easier, so each championship is very enjoyable.”
Bobby Butler wound up third in the 270cc standings, with Tommy Kunsman Jr. and Steve Walters finishing fourth and fifth.
A very special Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to George Goerner, who owns the wingless 600cc Micro-Sprint driven by Billy Ney. Goerner has been involved in local and regional racing for the past 57 years as a mechanic, car owner, and - on one occasion - as a driver. He’s wrenched and owned Sprint Cars, Midgets, Super Sportsman, Mini-Sprints, and 600cc Micros, and he’s done it on a limited budget.
Goerner is currently battling some serious health issues, but he was able to attend the banquet and receive his award.
Co-promoter Rich Tobias presented an award of appreciation to Brad Reinert, who was instrumental in securing many of the marketing partners for the first season of racing at the Action Track USA. It was also through the efforts of Reinert that Jeffrey Hogue purchased the naming rights to the speedway, and Tobias wanted every one of the more than 200 banquet attendees to realize the importance of Reinert’s contributions to the success of the race track.