2007 FINALE AT MAHONING PROVIDES MEMORABLE RACING by Jim Blacroch
Quinn Wins Super 7 100, Santee Wins Track Championship
If you haven’t seen a race in the comfortable confines of the Mahoning Valley Speedway, then you do not know what you are missing. The racing is incredible, the atmosphere is exciting and you are almost guaranteed to have a good time.
This past Saturday saw the ¼-mile wave the checkered flag on the 2007 season and the first year of the Super 7 Asphalt Modified Series, a 7-event schedule that MVS promoter, Doug Hoffman created. The events paid $3,000 to win and were all extra distance races. In total the series paid out well over $100,000 in prize monies and was sponsored by J Co Auto Body, which is owned by Joe Martinelli, who owns Zane Zeiner’s entries. The series also made for some very exciting racing on the ¼-mile oval.
Mike Quinn won Mohoning Valley Speedway's final event of the season. (Mohoning photos)
In Saturday’s finale, Mike Quinn of Ashfield, Penn., shot to the outside of Zane Zeiner just past the halfway point of the event and held off a charging Eric Beers, Zeiner and Paules to capture the biggest win of his career. Quinn drove the race of his life to capture the victory.
“This unbelievable!” shouted Quinn upon exit of his Ivan and Wanda Morgan Troyer creation. “I never thought we’d come out on top in this one considering that we were start 12th and you had Eric Beers, Zane Zeiner, Earl Paules and all of the other guys in the field. I really can’t believe I held those guys off, it really is unbelievable.”
After Zeiner beat Beers in time trials by about one-thousandth of a second, the redraw of the top-12 saw Don Wagner up front controlling the early portions of the race.
The turning point of the race came on lap 45. Zeiner made an incredible three-wide move down the backstretch to snag the lead from Wagner. At nearly the same time the field scrambled in turn four and Rod Snyder, Jr., who was trying to make his swiftly through
the spinning cars, knocked the left front off the car and took a hard trip into the outside retaining wall. The red flag was displayed. During the red flag Earl Paules worked on his machine and was sent to the rear of the field for this reason. He quickly shot into the pits and put tires on his mount for the ensuing restart.
Wagner’s night became worse when he spun just prior to the 50-lap mark and collected Matt Hirschman.
By this point of the race Quinn had worked all the way up to second and was looking for more as he swung to the outside of Zeiner to wrestle the lead away on lap 62. Beers followed Quinn and tried in vane to garner the top spot only to be denied. Over the course of the last 35-laps a quartet of drivers had an opportunity to win the event. Quinn leading, Beers, who at times even lost second, Zeiner and Paules.
Beers and Quinn made contact entering turn three at one point and Beers made an incredible save as Quinn seemingly crowded Beers to the infield.
“I’ve got to thank everyone involved with this team,” smiled Quinn. “Especially the Morgan’s for trusting me to drive their car. I’ve only won twice before in this division and I will say that tonight is just awesome.”
Chip Santee won the track championship.
For Chip Santee of Slatington, Penn., 2007 was to be a return to weekly modified competition at Mahoning. It had been since 2002 that Santee had run the full schedule and in 2002, he also wore the track crown. In the year’s between, Santee only ran a
“When the year began, honestly, I wasn’t thinking about running for the championship,” began Santee. “We got off to a rough start this year, but then things started coming our way and we started to have some good finishes. Still, it wasn’t really something we talked too much about until recently.”
Santee, who is a stock car racing throwback himself, began his racing career at the historic Dorney Park. He is part of a fraternity that doesn’t have many folks behind the wheel these days. Beers and Santee began racing together in the Late Model division at Dorney Park in 1986, while Tony Hirschman is probably the most senior of the Dorney Park alumni that continues to drive.
“It has been a long time,” offered Santee, referring to his racing career. “We’ve had a lot of fun over the years, but this one is memorable for a lot of different reasons.”
Santee, who is just a normal guy very, is the true definition of a weekly racer. To run weekly this season Santee even worked out a deal to borrow an older trailer that Beers had by his shop. His Father, Floyd purchased the new Troyer mount, that Santee and crew kept looking immaculate throughout the season.
“It took a ton of help for us to get here,” reflected Santee. “Of course, you’ve got all of the volunteers that help you out on the team, but the people that you race against really help out as well. It is incredible when you think about it.”
Throughout the season the championship chased evolved into a battle that seemingly involved three competitors throughout the year. Santee, Scott Lesher and Paules. After an incident between Paules and Santee in the next-to-last week, it came down to Santee and Lesher in the season finale.
In the 100-lap race, Santee made his way to the front while Lesher struggled and ultimately finished 18th. An emotional Santee reflected on the championship war.
“I didn’t want things to end this way. I wanted them to play out on the race track,” stated Santee referring to the race. “Whatever happened last week, was last week and we’ll forget about it, but tonight I would have rather raced Scott. I seen him having problems and I really felt bad. I want to congratulate Scott on a great season, he’s a class act and a great friend.”
Santee’s race was up and down and the 7th place finish wasn’t exactly what he was looking for.
“We were good, then the car got tight,” he related. “I thought we might have something for a while, but it didn’t work out that way and I was just trying to survive to the end.”
After the race Santee celebrated but ultimately he needed a push back to victory lane from track owner, Doug Hoffman.
“I guess it broke,” laughed Santee. “I was pretty excited and celebrating back there.”
Santee continued, trying to remember everyone that helped him earn the Mahoning track championship. “My Dad owns the car and we wouldn’t have done it without his encouragement. My crew, especially Scott Strohl, who really put a great effort into all of this, if I forget anyone, I apologize, but believe me I’m thinking about you and very appreciative of your support and help.”
By the end of the night, Santee was seemingly overwhelmed with emotions and enjoyed some quiet moments with his team, as they reveled in the night, parked next to Scott Lesher. In today’s ‘PC’ world of racing, it was like getting in a time machine with ‘Doc’ and going back about 30-years.
People laughed, drank their favorite adult beverage, laughed and talked, the kids played in the darkness of the pits, the crews rolled their cars in their trailers. It was unbelievably warm for early October and it just seemed like nobody wanted it to end. Santee included.
“I don’t know if we’ll do this again next year, but tonight feels pretty good.”
You can bet it did.
Earl Paules earned Super 7 top honors, via his fourth place finish in the 100-lap event. The top 7 point finishers in the Super 7 Series will receive an additional $1,000 in point fund money.
Eric Beers and Mahoning. If you asked Beers if he wanted every race at Mahoning, the answer would probably be yes. Beers led an incredible 279 laps in the races he ran at Mahoning this season and he also picked up three victories. On Saturday Beers nearly won the pole, redrew 9th and finished 2nd. Typical night for Beers at Mahoning, except for one thing.
“We lost the power steering early,” stated Beers, who finished second to Paules in the Super 7 standings. “Mike (Quinn) did a great job and a good car. I’m not sure I could have got him with power steering, but it would have definitely helped. He did a good job. I’m wore out, but I still love racing here at Mahoning.”
Matt Hirschman’s Mahoning woes continued as he was involved in an incident and recorded a 17th place finish.
John Markovic ran his own race and finished 6th even after contact from Paules seemingly sent Markovic spinning late in the race.
Quinn has been no stranger to Victory Lane this season.