Kutztown, Pa. - The philosophy is simple, yet effective...create an affordable, spec racecar then provide a healthy purse for events that feature those cars. That combination will lure top name drivers (especially if you can pick a night when virtually no other tracks are competing against you), and those big names will entice the fans to come out and watch, week after week. Throw in a nicely renovated facility with the necessary amenities and a racy surface so the competitors can do what they do best, and you've got a formula for success.
And it's exactly the formula that was utilized by co-promoters Rich Tobias and Doug Rose in 2013; their first season at the helm of the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA in Kutztown, Pa. It is an understatement to say that the inaugural campaign was a rousing success, as names such as Brightbill, Pauch, Eckert, Planck, Mahaney, Rahmer, and Strunk diced for the $2,000 winner's share in the SpeedSTR division, and the fans responded in droves each Wednesday night.
That formula continues to draw top name drivers from other segments of local motorsports, as an impressive array of race winners and track champions are leading a new group of wheel-twisters into the SpeedSTR wars that will commence with a practice session on May 12, then the season opening Goldie Meitzler Memorial on May 14.
Earl Paules, last year's Late Model point champion at the Mahoning Valley Speedway, is making the leap to Wednesday night competition at the fairgrounds in Kutztown. Paules, who captured 11 Late Model feature wins enroute to his title, is also a big winner in the asphalt Modified ranks and won a TQ Midget race in 2013. He brings a gaudy pavement resume with him, but Paules also has some dirt track experience in Sportsman Modifieds at Big Diamond Raceway.
Wind Gap, Pa.'s Frank Cozze, a former Big Block Modified winner on the Moody Mille in Syracuse, NY, is also making the plunge into the SpeedSTR pool in 2014. Cozze, who spent a few seasons in Central Pa. 410 Sprint Cars before returning last season to the seat of Norm Hansell's 358 dirt Modified, will probably see (at least some) double duty on Wednesday nights. He ran Dave Bodine's potent 600cc Micro-Sprint on a few occasions last summer, and there's a better than average chance that Cozze will hop between his SpeedSTR and Bodine's wingless 600 at the Action Track USA during the upcoming season.
Dirt Modified veteran Richie Pratt Jr., runner-up in last year's Big Block Modified points and three-time winner at Bridgeport, NJ, picked up a SpeedSTR frame, body panels, and associated parts at the Speedway Entertainment shop on January 13.
Kyle Weiss, the 358 Modified pilot from Schuylkill Haven, Pa., had his sharp looking M.A.S. Trucking/ Blue Knob Auto Sales SpeedSTR on display at the recent Motorsports Show in Oaks, Pa. Weiss, who's finished seventh in the ultra-tough Grandview Modified division point standings the past two years, will make his SpeedSTR debut at Kutztown in May.
Pancho Lawler, a Super Late Model chauffeur at the Hagerstown, MD Speedway and owner/operator of Pancho's Racing Products in Hanover, has also decided to give the SpeedSTR's a try this season.
Bridgeton, NJ's Lee Nardelli, a former 270cc Micro-Sprint champion on the quarter-mile at Bridgeport and a 600cc feature winner at the south Jersey oval, is another driver who is busily preparing his new SpeedSTR for competition at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA. Nardelli always has eye-catching equipment, as evidenced by his Best Appearing 600cc Micro-Sprint Award received at this year's Bridgeport Speedway Banquet.
Fifteen-year-old Ryan Krachun, from Neshanic Station, NJ, is also on the list of new SpeedSTR throttle-jockeys for 2014. Krachun's background includes a couple of seasons in the USAC Eastern Ignite Midget Series, where he won a race at Hickory, NC in 2013.
Krachun spent some of the past year steering a PASS South Super Late Model, too, as well as making a start or two in the NEMA Lite Series. He and his team are planning to run the NEMA Midget tour in 2014, along with Wednesday night stops in Kutztown for SpeedSTR action.
Larry Solomon, who's spent many years gassing dirt Modifieds in the Northeast, recently placed an order for a new SpeedSTR.
Brett Michalski, the young charger who became the first driver to flip out of the ballpark at the renovated facility in Kutztown when he cleared the turn three barrier in his wingless 600cc Micro-Sprint last year, is also planning to compete with the SpeedSTR's when the new season begins in May.
Joining Michalski as a SpeedSTR rookie will be one of last year's most popular wingless 600 wheelmen, Kyle Lick. Lick is joining the Kovatch Motorsports team and will buckle into one of their SpeedSTR's while continuing to thrill the crowd with his high-side escapades in a Lamar Schaffer prepared wingless 600, where he'll run as a teammate to Billy Pauch Jr.
With this group of newcomers added to the already star-studded field of competitors in the SpeedSTR division, the Action Track USA will surely live up to its name in 2014.
Tobias has made some changes to his creations for this season. The open-wheeled, self-starting spec class featuring a 2.4 Liter dual overhead cam Mopar engine, will have power steering (via an electric pump) available to its chauffeurs for the first time in 2014. Tobias is also lowering the fuel cell a bit to make the cars handle better and be a little more nimble on the race track - features that will heighten the competition even more among the all star lineup of drivers that will visit the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds.
The USAC sanctioned Sunoco SpeedSTR's will be joined, on a weekly basis, by the Pioneer Pole Buildings Wingless 600cc Micro-Sprints and the NAPA Auto Parts All Star Slingshots. There will be several appearances by the Junior Slingshots throughout the season, as well as the wingless 270cc Micro-Sprints.
For additional information, please visit the speedway's website at: www.actiontrackusa.com and stay up to date on all the news at the track's Facebook page and/or Twitter feed.