Asphalt short track racing fans in the state of Pennsylvania have a lot to look forward to this Saturday. Jennerstown Speedway, located about 70 miles east of Pittsburgh, will play host to the inaugural Motor Mountain Masters, an open show featuring big money races for Late Models, Open-Wheel Modifieds and four-cylinder. The event is one that track management, drivers and fans see potential in putting their half-mile oval back on the map.
One of the drivers who will be competing this Saturday is current Late Model points leader Gary Wiltrout. Though the track is not doing a pre-entry list, Wiltrout has heard about teams coming from outside the region to compete in the 150-lap, $6,000-to-win contest. It has him eager to defend his home pavement.
“I like the big races, they have some guys coming from South Carolina and Virginia, so it’s going to be interesting and fun,” Wiltrout told Speed51.com. “It’s nice when you have people coming in, when you race the same 13 or 14 cars every week, you like to have some different competition.”
The biggest challenge for the Pennsylvania driver may be the unique race format. Instead of being contested a straight-up 150, the race will be broken into three segments of 40, 50, and 60 laps. This alone will keep many drivers, including Wiltrout, on their toes.
“I don’t know if I’m a fan of that. I just want to go 150 laps. That’s the best way to win it. We’ve never done anything like this, but it’s going to be interesting,” he said. “It’ll be fun for the fans to watch I’m sure. Still, I think we got as good a chance as anybody.”
Wiltrout is also excited for the Motor Mountain Masters, as he believes it is an important step to ensuring Jennerstown’s long-term viability.
“I was probably about the only guy that ran Friday and Saturday nights when Motordrome was open. I was happy when Jennerstown opened back up. My boss is actually one of the owners up there and if these guys don’t make it work, there’s nobody that can make it work because they’re putting all the money they can back into the place and they’ve made lots of improvements. To have a race like this, I think is going to be something else, I think it’s going to be an every-year type of deal, maybe a couple of times a year.”
One of Jennerstown’s younger stars, current Modified track points leader Anthony Aiello not only thinks that a big field could help his home track, but also bring back some other Pennsylvania tracks from the list of “Lost Speedways.”
“Hopefully a lot of big names show up and we get the cars, to have a big turnout would be great for the track,” Aiello stated. “If this year takes off hopefully it’ll get bigger and bigger every year for years to come. It’s a small little area, Jennerstown, Western PA, these kinds of tracks are dying out. Jennerstown is the last one. Hopefully it can revive Motordrome and even Clearfield with an event like this and bring cars back to the area.”
The Modifieds themselves will go for 50 laps over two segments of 20 and 30 laps, all for $3,000-to-win on the half-mile. It is a format that Aiello is ready to tackle.
“I think it’s a great format, the longest I’ve ever run is 40 laps. That’s in Street Stocks, but that’s a bit of a different animal. If I can hopefully get up front after the first 20 or be close to the front and set the pace, that would be ideal.”
The Irwin, Pennsylvania hot shoe is looking to continue what has been a dream season is his first full year in a Modified.
“It’s my rookie season and I honestly couldn’t have expected this. It’s tough enough to get one win, let alone seven. Hopefully we can get another one this weekend in the big one.”
For those who can’t make the drive to Jennerstown this Saturday, you can see all of the racing on Speed51’s Summer Thunder TV with a premium subscription to the Speed51 Network. If you’re not already a member, click here to sign up today.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Jennerstown Speedway