PENN YAN, N.Y. — Story by Race Chaser Online New York Correspondent Steven Ovens — Woodhull Raceway photo —
Mother Nature looks like she finally has her mood stabilizers under control and will allow more dirt tracks in the Northeast to get their season kicked off for 2015. One of those tracks in the Southern Tier of New York is ‘New York’s Toughest Bullring’- the Woodhull Raceway.
To date, Woodhull has lost their scheduled practice session and their season lid-lifter to cold, wet weather and saturated parking areas. The milder weather seen off and on over the last week and a half appears to have helped the one-third-mile bullring dry out the surface as well as the pit area and parking lots. As of Wednesday evening, racing is a go for Saturday night on the highbanks.
Although Woodhull is able to get their season kicked off Saturday, one track that will not is Canandaigua Motorsports Park. The weather has not been as kind to the Ontario County Fairgrounds facility that still saw standing water in the pit area earlier this week. This forced the cancellation of the April 17th/18th running of Jan Corcoran Memorial Weekend at CMP. One track’s loss is another two track’s potential gain this coming weekend.
Some CMP regulars in the Modifieds and Crate Sportsman division have put their names in the hat to compete at the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night- the first under the new ownership team of Bill and Kim Shea. However, a rare opportunity lies ahead for local drivers at Woodhull this weekend.
It has been well publicized that Brett Deyo’s Short Track Super Series will be coming to the Woodhull, NY track in early August for the running of “Hustlin’ the Highbanks 51”. However the SUNY Canton Grit Racing Series will also make their return to Woodhull for a special event paying a minimum of $1,000 to win. For non-Woodhull regulars, the opportunity to test and tune on an unfamiliar track exists this weekend with $1,000 on the line for the victor.
The Crate Sportsman division at Woodhull is a competitive one and has turned out some very competitive 370 Modified drivers in the recent past. Names like Donnie Lawson, Dillon Groover, Russell Morseman, Corey Costa and Dale Welty just to name a few. Who will step up and stake their claim for Crate Sportsman supremacy first in 2015?
The 360 Late Models will also race on Opening Night and will vie for $600 to win. Carl Hughes looks to take the first win of 2015 as he has his sights set on the 2015 championship at Woodhull. But you can’t count out ‘Ole 7-Time’ 360 Late Model track champion Glenn Writenour who picked up championship number seven during the 2014 season. Bruce Miller’s #80 is another car to keep an eye on when in attendance as well as the #14 of Rick Loucks who will race both 360 late models and Crate late models in 2015.
A division that has made a ton of noise for all the right reasons in the offseason at Woodhull is the Street Stocks. Promoter Ted White made the call to increase the Street Stock purse to $400 to win and $50 to take the green flag which was incredibly well-received by the Woodhull faithful as well as some cars labeled as ‘outsiders’ in years past. The deal got even sweeter when White announced that if the division draws 20 or more cars, the purse increases to $500 to win.
Defending track champion Brett Marlatt will be back to start his title defense and he will have some stiff competition. Race Chaser Online has learned that Teddy Morseman will likely be in a street stock ride to start the season if they cannot finish his own #44 ride after suffering an unfortunate garage fire over the winter. All of Morseman’s bolt-on parts were destroyed as the chassis was out to be powder coated. Dylan Cecce will likely debut the Potter Chassis house car at Woodhull this week, which will be a car to keep your eye on no matter what set of pit gates they roll through.
Past track champion Jeremy Potrzebowski will be running Woodhull for points this season and this full-time return to Woodhull could pay dividends for the Elmira, NY native early based on how they practiced on Sunday at the Black Rock Speedway. Jared Hill is looking to debut his brand new Potter Chassis as well however it’s still unclear if that debut will take place this weekend or next weekend at Black Rock as the Dundee, NY pilot is still recovering from offseason surgery. When contacted Sunday, Hill stated he felt good and is improving every day and looks forward to getting back on track with the Creekside Racing #93.
Not to be overlooked either is the young guns jumping up to the Street Stocks this season- Jason Gleason and Branden Morseman. This duo have been the kings of rear-wheel drive Mini Stock competition at the Woodhull Raceway the past few seasons and they look to carry that momentum into the new season in a new division. Gleason wrapped up the 2014 championship early on and could have taken roughly the last handful of races off and sat on the beach drinking out of coconut glasses without concern. The Comfort Zone Heating and Cooling #24 is one of the sharpest cars this season- expect it to race as good as it looks.
Let’s not forget about the Mini Stocks and the Front Wheel Drives either who will race for $100 to win in each division this weekend. Ricky Amidon took home 11 Top 5s in 2015 but did not grace victory lane. Saturday night will be a great opportunity for Amidon to snap that streak out of the box and stake his claim as a 2015 contender.
But one car that shouldn’t escape anyone’s mind this season is the “Flyin’ X” of Rich Sharpsteen. ‘Cowboy’ will attempt to compete for championships at both Black Rock Speedway and Woodhull in 2015 and Saturday night’s opener will be race #1 in that quest. The Dundee, NY driver who already has a Black Rock championship and three Paradise Speedway championships has not yet scored a Woodhull championship in his career- could 2015 erase that big goose egg?
The Front Wheel Drive division’s story line heading into Opening Night 2015 is- ‘Can anyone stop the Hendrick Motorsports of FWDs team of the Birdsall’s, defending track champion Adam DelGrosso and Ryan Austin?’ There is a realistic shot that this team could sweep the 2015 season at Woodhull and Saturday will help us figure out who is ready to step up to the plate against these guys. One thing we do know is the defending champ will be all hopped up on maple syrup and ready to go!
The Bandit youth Mini Stock division will also return in 2015 after a couple season hiatus. This is a great feeder division that gives drivers age 12-16 an opportunity to drive a full-sized stock car before they even obtain a driver’s license. 2015 will be a rebuilding year for the Bandits and we look forward to bringing you these young drivers’ stories.
Pit Gates open at 4:00PM, general admission gates open at 4:30PM and racing gets underway promptly at 6:30PM on the Highbanks of the Woodhull Raceway. Race over to www.woodhullraceway.com for official raceway announcements and contact information.