Leaty and Hirschman Split Weekend RoC Mod Wins by Jim Blacroch
Experience Scores One, Youth Scores The Other
The DART Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour made a two-night swing through Western New York this past weekend. They stopped at Spencer Speedway near Rochester, N.Y., on Friday night for a 100-lap combination (North and Central Region event) and capped the weekend off with a 75-lap North Region dash at Lancaster Speedway near Buffalo on Saturday night.
Jan Leaty (Top - Ken+Bev Dippel Photo) and Matt Hirschman (Bottom - Paul Cooper courtesy of GATER Racing News photo) split time in RoC Modified victory lane this weekend.
The Lancaster event, originally scheduled last Saturday (June 30th) was rescheduled due to inclement weather.
Friday night’s 100-lap event at the flat 1/2-mile Spencer Speedway saw a very familiar face return to victory lane, when Jan Leaty used a timely pitstop for a right rear tire and held off Eric Beers to capture his first victory of the season at a track he is very familiar with.
The race, which was a good one, had a turning point when Mike Leaty – Jan’s son and weekly regular at Spencer – experienced a miscommunication or in this case a non-communication error and did not pit when the pits were open the first time the field came by. Instead the younger Leaty pitted the next lap and gave up very valuable track position.
Obviously, Mike Leaty was very upset after the event, but he was the lone exception of the teams involved in the event that did not pit.
Following that situation, Jan quickly worked his way to the front took the lead and did a very cool victory celebration, when he put the nose of his Troyer machine against the retaining wall at the start-finish line and lit up the rear tires in a celebratory smoke show to the roaring crowd’s approval.
“This is a good win for us,” stated Leaty from victory lane. “I know Mike’s disappointed and upset right now and we’ll find out what happened, but for me, our team and my family this is a pretty special win.”
Leaty has a wealth of experience at Spencer and used it to his advantage on Friday night.
“Chuck Hossfeld beat me off of pit road and then we raced our way back to the front. I was taking it a little easy. I didn’t know if Eric (Beers) had anything for me or not, but once I figured it out and the tires heated up after two or three laps I just drove it. This was a really good win for our team.”
The Spencer victory was a combination (North and Central Region) for the DART Race of Champions Teams.
Leaty was followed to the stripe by Eric Beers and Matt Hirschman.
At Lancaster on Saturday night, Matt Hirschman turned the tables on Leaty and scored his second DART RoC win of the season aboard his family owned machine.
“Every race at every race track always plays out a little differently,” stated the young Hirschman.
“Nothing was set in stone whether or not I was going to pit or not. You just have to try to put yourself into a position that gives you an opportunity to win and that’s what we did tonight. I’ve got to thank everyone on the crew, my Mom and Dad, this is a good win for us. As soon as we’re done here, I’ve got to get going because we have a Whelen Modified Tour race to run on Sunday at Twin State Speedway in Claremont, New Hampshire.”
Hirschman would go on to finish second at Twin State in Sunday night’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
At Lancaster, Hirschman saved his tires during the heat race and started 17th in the feature, before making several bold outside moves to take the lead from Bobby Holmes on lap 39. The key to Hirschman’s race ended up being the move not to pit for a fresh right rear tire and gain valuable track position while the majority of the field opted for a fresh Hoosier.
In the end Hirschman had to hold off a charging Jan Leaty, while Tom McGrath, a Lancaster regular made it all the way back to third after replacing several rear end components after qualifying.
It took McGrath’s team nearly until the start of the feature to have the car ready for competition.
“Tonight was all about my guys on the team,” explained McGrath. “I was already starting to pack up the trailer, but my guys were looking for the parts and nobody had them, so one guy headed back to the shop to get what we needed which is about an hour round trip. He got back here during the Late Model feature, they put it together and here we are. I may have charged a little too hard early, but we’ll take it. My guys are the best.”
Great Weekend… Just Like Old Times
Sunday morning’s news clippings around the area read headlines where race fans around the Western New York area may have had to do a double-take. “Leaty holds of Beers and Hirschman at Spencer, Hirschman comes back to beat Leaty on Saturday,”
Matt Hirschman bounced off the wall at Spencer hard enough to bend the interior sheet metal and the side bars on the car along with a couple of wheels.
“This was the most physically demanding race I’ve run all year and I’ve had an opportunity to compete at a lot of tracks, but this place is demanding,” explained Hirschman regarding the Spencer half-mile.
Leaty takes the checkered flag at Spencer. (Ken+Bev Dippel Photo)
Beers (#99) and Danny Knoll (#17) race with each other at Spencer. (Ken+Bev Dippel Photo)
may have been what some folks read not realizing who was actually involved, thinking they entered a time machine that took them back to the 1980’s and 1990’s.
“My Dad and Jan Leaty had some of the best races back in the 1980’s and 1990’s when they raced at Oswego, Shangri-La (Tioga) and here at Lancaster,” Hirschman offered, reflecting on watching his Father race with Jan, while he was growing up. “To beat Jan here is pretty cool for me because he is still a great competitor and still has it, just like my Dad does. I now realize why people say that was same of the greatest modified racing with those two battling. Tonight’s pretty cool.”
For Leaty the competitive flame has never died. Although he has backed his schedule down in recent years he is still one of the top competitors anytime he shows up at the track.
“I didn’t say much, but I wanted to win both nights,” explained Leaty. “I’ve done that a few times in my career and that would have been very neat to do, but still we had a great weekend.”
Leaty reflected a bit more and talked about the state of asphalt modified racing in the area, especially at his home track and that this weekend was very positive for the future of the division in the area.
“It was good to see the old girl with some cars and some people on Friday night,” stated Leaty - referring to Spencer. “The weekly crowds haven’t been bad at Spencer, but there have been some bumps in the road as far as count goes, but it is improving. I think as a group we are all learning and that’s the positive.
John White and his promotional and officiating team started a little green and had some rough spots, but everything is starting to gel and everyone is getting along and moving forward. This was a good event for him, it was successful and I think we’ll have a few more shows here with time.”
Leaty, who was very upbeat about the weekend put on a cool display on Friday night after winning as he pressed the nose of his Troyer modified to the outside wall and lit the tires up in a smoke show. He started the tradition with his victory in the final event at Tioga in 2004.
“Yeah, I got a little excited,” offered Leaty. “It was pretty emotional, plus you just can’t go sliding around through the dirt and kicking up debris and a little smoke never really hurt anyone. I didn’t invent it but it gets the fans charged up.”
With that said, the fans have more to be charged up about then a little smoke show. The fact is there are still Leaty’s and Hirschman’s battling it out when the RoC Tour comes to town, just like old times and it’s just as exciting as ever. If this weekend was any indication of what fans want to see then asphalt modified racing proved once again that folks in the Northeast love their modifieds because both tracks (Lancaster and Spencer) seemed to good enthusiastic crowds.
Eric Beers finished second at Spencer and tenth at Lancaster driving the former Chuck Hossfeld driving Don Ryerse owned Troyer mount that Terry Zacharias purchased just prior to the start of the season.
“Man, those two places are challenging,” stated Beers. “I’ve been to Lancaster a few times, even won the US Open a few years, ago, but I haven’t been to Spencer in a few years and all I can say is both tracks are very demanding. We didn’t have much for Jan at Spencer, but second was great. I thought we’d better but at Lancaster but Darren Scherer turned around next to us and hit the left front pretty hard and messed up the geometry, so we tried our best, but tenth was all it had. I need to thank Terry (Zacharias) for the ride this weekend. We’ve hit a bit of a rough stretch with our own teams regarding our engine programs and Terry stepped right up and gave us a good ride for tonight.”
Bill Hebing is just plain exciting to watch aboard Kenny Troyer’s Route 66 machine. Hebing finished fourth at Spencer and 9th at Lancaster, both nights with the tail wagging hanging everything out on the outside lane, giving it his all.
Chuck Hossfeld returned to RoC competition this past weekend with two races close to home aboard his own Jerry Gradl Motors sponsored 22. A fifth at Spencer and a sixth a Lancaster were the finishes of record, but he looked strong in both events. Right now Hossfeld is taking things slowly with his own team while looking to return the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at some point. Hossfeld is certainly talented enough to get the job done and if he continues to race with the RoC, he is threat to win anywhere.
John Markovic turned in a solid performance at Spencer with an 8th place finish, but struggled at Lancaster making several pitstops to improve the performance of his machine.
Erik Rudolph, the son of Western New York racing legend, Charlie Rudolph is acclimating himself nicely to the asphalt modified division after cutting his teeth in the SST Modified (Sportsman SK-type Modifieds) and TQ Midget divisions. Saturday night at Lancaster, Rudolph came home fourth and showed that he has some of his father’s genetic as he becomes another second generation racer on the rise.
The DART Race of Champions heads back to the 1/3-mile bullring in Perry, New York next week (Sunday, July 15, 2007) for race # 3 of North Region schedule and a 75-lap dash. For more information you can tryout www.wyomingcountyinternationalspeedway.com for start times, directions and other information.
RACE REPORT RACE OF CHAMPIONS DART ASPHALT MODIFIED TOUR COMBINATION RACE #2
1.) Jan Leaty
2.) Eric Beers
3.) Matt Hirschman
4.) Bill Hebing
5.) Chuck Hossfeld
6.) Lee Sherwood
7.) Todd Smith
8.) John Markovic
9.) Buck Catalano
10.) Sege Fidanza
11.) Mike Leaty
12.) Daren Scherer
13.) Pete Brittain
14.) Billy Putney
15.) Danny Knoll, Jr.
16.) Eddie Hawkins
17.) Chris Finocchario
18.) Mark Tychoniewicz
19.) Rick Kluth
20.) Dean DeMarree
21.) Phil Slater
22.) Tim McMullen
23.) Doug Reaume
24.) Rusty Smith
25.) Tommy Kinsella
26.) Patsy Catalano
27.) Terry Cheetham
28.) TJ Potrzebowski.
DNQ’S; Matt Clemens, Jimmy Zacharias, Chris Risdale.
LAP LEADERS; Hossfeld ( 1 – 26 ), B. Catalano ( 27 –
62 ), M. Leaty ( 63 – 68 ), Sherwood ( 69 – 79 ), J.
Leaty ( 80 – 100 )
DART MACHINERY AWARD SET OF HEADS $1,100 VALUE; Finocchario GATER RACING NEWS DRIVER BONUS DRAW $500; Finocchario HOOSIER RACING TIRE HARD CHARGER AWARD; Hirschman ( 23rd to 3rd ) HOOSIER RACING TIRE HARD LUCK AWARD; P. Catalano ( 10th to 26th ) PROVISIONAL BUY – INS; Kluth, Reaume
RACE REPORT RACE OF CHAMPIONS DART ASPHALT MODIFIED TOUR
LANCASTER MOTORSPORTS PARK NORTH REGION RACE # 2
1.) Matt Hirschman
2.) Jan Leaty
3.) Tom McGrath
4.) Erick Rudolph
5.) Sege Fidanza
6.) Chuck Hossfeld
7.) Buck Catalano
8.) Danny Knoll, Jr.
9.) Bill Hebing
10.) Eric Beers
11.) Phil Slater
12.) Bobby Holmes
13.) Pete Brittain
14.) Rick Kluth
15.) Lee Sherwood
16.) Mark Tychoniewicz
17.) John Markovic
18.) Dan Chimera
19.) Sean O’Neill
20.) Billy Putney
21.) Doug Reaume
22.) Todd Smith
23.) Daren Scherer
24.) Brett Scherer
25.) Larry Jackson
26.) Matt Clemens.
DNS; Jimmy Zacharias, Mike Leaty, Kirk Rutherford.
LAP LEADERS; Hebing ( 1 – 5 ), Holmes ( 6- 38 ), Hirschman ( 39 – 75 ) DART MACHINERY AWARD SET OF HEADS $1,100 VALUE; Tychoniewicz GATER RACING NEWS DRIVER BONUS DRAW $500; O’Neill HOOSIER RACING TIRE HARD CHARGER AWARD; Rudolph ( 21st to 4th ) HOOSIER RACING TIRE HARD LUCK AWARD; D. Scherer ( 6th to 23rd ) NEXT RoC DART ASPHALT MODIFIED TOUR RACE; Sunday July 15th - Wyoming County International Raceway – North Region Race # 3
Bill Hebring's Route #66 Modified. (Ken+Bev Dippel Photo)