A chilly Saturday night at Plymouth Dirt Track soon heated up with new track records, surprise endings, and first wins of the season for all. With temperatures in the low fifties and a blustery wind, things moved along quickly to treat the fans to nearly ninety entries in five divisions. The night before Mother’s Day was made special with the return of Grand National driver Dan Sorce in a car honoring his mother. Changing his number to forty to mark how many years ago his mother passed away, Sorce’s car also sported memorial pictures of others close to him and his family.


The Sorce family made their mark right away in the Grand National field when Dan won his heat and set a new track record. Two races later his brother Don Sorce Jr. eclipsed the mark in his heat win, and Mark Fieber was the other winner. Jeff Lammers led the four transferees from the B main, followed by Ben Konen in a heavily smoking car. Konen’s problems forced him to scratch from the feature, giving Johnathon Singer a feature berth as first alternate. Singer had earlier been sent to the back of the field after an earlier incident.


The 25-lap feature began with James Pagel and Dick Hed in front of Barry Maas, Kevin Luback, Brian Cesar and Tyler Kulow. Twenty cars roared to life at the green flag and 76-year old Hed led the charge. Pagel recovered to take the point four laps later, but Lubach’s spun car forced the caution on the next lap. The restart was Cesar charge into the lead and hold on to the checkered flag. Behind Cesar was a lot of action. Don Sorce started twelfth due to last week’s win, and moved up to second place when the race ended. Brad Lubach came from seventh to third, followed by Kulow, Hed and Dan Sorce from the sixth row. Cesar thanked all who helped him, stating, “The car was good.” Asked how long he’s been racing, Cesar replied it was about twenty years.


The sprint car field had a few missing after last week’s expired engines and crashed cars. Heat winners were Robbie Pribnow, Brandon McMullen and Jim Melis. Shane Wenninger’s car balked earlier, keeping him out of action until the B main. The final six transferring to the feature were led by Doug Wondra, and the 22-car field was set. The 25-lap contest saw Ken Jay Fiedler and John Kerbsbach in the front row after the redraw, followed by Tim Haddy, Kurt Davis, Paul Pokorski and Wondra. Krebsbach quickly took charge until surprising all when his car slid high and brushed the wall, flattening a tire in the process. We later learned he was hit by a rock, which caused him to go awry, but was examined and found to be okay.


Haddy inherited the lead and held it for five circuits, but a car had spun to the wall to force another restart with eight laps remaining. The final green flag was followed by a lot of scrambling, after which Davis came out ahead of the rest. Stretching out his advantage, Davis was followed by Melis, Donny Goeden from twelfth place, Haddy and Pribnow. After spinning donuts, Davis pulled his mount to the front of the grandstands and climbed to his wing in victory. After last week’s crash sidelined his main car, Davis found his spare mount up to the challenge. “That motor’s got 36 nights on it,” began Davis, adding, “I’ve got to thank my wife. I’ve been racing 36 years and she’s been with me for every one.” As for his main car, Davis claimed, “Bubbles will be back.”


The late model class started with Rick Scheffler and Jim Schmidt winning the heats before all eighteen began the 25-lap feature. The inversion placed Tim Buhler and Turk Letizia in front of Brad Mueller, Schmidt, Russ Scheffler and Justin Schmidt. There was nothing between the green flag and the checkers except a lot of racing. Buhler was ahead until Mueller drove past on the third lap and began lapping the back of the field ten circuits later. Earning his first win of the season, Mueller was followed by Jim Schmidt, Mitch McGrath from seventh place, Buhler and Justin Schmidt.


Mueller was soon mobbed by a group of youngsters as he dedicated the win to an eight-year old boy, telling the crowd, “I didn’t even realize how fast I was driving.” Asked if this was a new car, Mueller replied, “This is the sixth year on this car. I had it three years.”


The Outlaw Compact heat was won by Cody Rivest and all ten entries began the 15-lap feature. Jasper Drengler made his first race of the year a good one by leading from the pole. One lap later it was Rivest roaring past from his fourth-place start. Suddenly Rivest slowed in what seemed to be tie rod problems, giving the point to Chris Maas. With two laps remaining in the nonstop contest Scott Schlafke found his opening and took it, staying ahead of Maas at the finish line. The third car sporting the number seven was Cody Pankow, who finished third. “It was a really good race,” claimed Schlafke, adding, “I really didn’t think I’d get by him (Maas).” Alluding to the cold night, Schlafke shouted, “Everybody in the stands gets a holler. Thanks, guys.”


The wingless Super Modified cars had new faces join the field, or as one of the wives stated, old faces back again. The old machines came out of retirement to have fun again. Dan Kruschke won the heat followed by the heavily smoking machine of Dennis Klumb. Klumb didn’t join the rest at feature time, but at least he could warm up while the others raced in the cold. Kruschke and Bill Schmitz made up the front row, but it was Johnny Fahl from third place to lead all fifteen circuits. A couple spins by Roy Stern slowed the pace, with another restart with two laps remaining. Fahl came to victory circle as fans flocked out of the chilly arena. Bob Brion, Schmitz, Butchie Hafemann and Keith Anderson completed the top five.


We, and everyone else, are very thankful for track efforts to speed the program along. The entire show was complete shortly after nine o’clock as we braved the chilly wind to our warm vehicles. The next day we would all have a break from racing to enjoy Mother’s Day. For your scribe, this doubles as a birthday. Warm wishes to all the women in racing.

– Fay Hendricks story & photo

Hot Racing on Cold Night at PDTR