Spencer Speedway in Williamson, N.Y., has become synonymous over the years with the Leaty name. Jan Leaty won Modified and Late Model track championships and utilized his experience against some of the best to ever wheel a Modified on the flat _-mile to vault to the NASCAR Modified Touring stage. It is also the track where Jan's son Mike was introduced to the sport growing up in the shadows of his father.
For the past several seasons, there really have been no shadows. The Father and Son have raced side-by-side as a family and have experienced the ups and downs of the sport together. On Friday night, it was most definitely an 'up' as MPL (Michael Paul Leaty) Motorsports found themselves in victory lane after a thrilling 75-lap DART RoC event. It was also the first time that the new DART headed motor went to victory lane, providing a historical landmark for the series.
Leaty had to hold off a high-flying Chuck Hossfeld to earn the victory. It was significant in the fact that Hossfeld is powered by a Hutter engine, one of the most dominant brands in the history of Modified racing. After starting 10th, pitting for a right rear tire on lap 35 and making a dramatic bottom shot in turn three and four for the lead Leaty was able to smile following the race.
“I didn't even know I was going to pit until I started seeing some of the guys head down pit road,” explained Leaty. “When I got there I just turned in thinking this was the time we needed to get our tire.”
It turned out that it was as Leaty worked his way back to the front with Hossfeld on or near his bumper. The move to the lead was dramatic. Race leader Rusty Smith had his hands full but did everything he could to maintain the top spot, while Leaty searched high and low for room around Smith. Hossfeld actually slipped by Leaty at one point.
“I thought I was in trouble then,” related Leaty.
But on lap 56, while Hossfeld was trying the outside of Smith, Smith became loose and left a crack on the bottom for Leaty to stick his US Army Troyer mount into. Hossfeld quickly cut to the bottom and gave Leaty a shot which vaulted him and Hossfeld past Smith.
“Rusty was doing his job and not giving us any room and Chuck was trying so hard. Rusty just slipped up and got a little loose and when he did I was able to get in there. Chuck got behind me and gave me a push, which felt like a bunch of extra horsepower coming off turn four and we were able to get in the lead.”
Leaty has become quite the student of the game - as reflected in his post-race analysis of Friday's 75-lap go.
“I knew after the pit stop that it would be a race back to the front and whoever got there would probably remain there,” Leaty explained. “We were just fortunate enough to get there first. It was a lot fun. There was some touching and bumping, but it's great to race with guys that are accomplished and respect each other. I'm pretty sure it was a good show for the fans. I didn't think Chuck was going to race around us or vice versa if he got the lead first. This is just a gratifying win and I'm happy we came out on top.”
Leaty then expounded on the use of the RoC DART Spec Head Motor. Leaty has utilized the motor for quite some time and can truly see its benefits.
“I believe in the motor and won a weekly race here last season,” Leaty elaborated. “It's the first win this RoC motor and I'm very proud of that. I honestly didn't think this motor would run this well here. At Lancaster or Oswego, where you can keep the motor somewhat wound up, it's fantastic, but it seemingly lacks a little bit of torque for a place like here at Spencer.”
The motor utilizes a DART Spec cylinder head and can use a larger carburetor. Leaty explained further.
“If I have twenty thousand dollars in this motor, I'm lucky. That's still a lot of money, but I can take a brand new four hundred dollar carburetor out of the box and put on the engine and go racing. If I had a Tour-type aluminum headed motor, then I'd spend thirty five hundred on the carburetor and after tonight I really don't see any difference between the two except the cost. Right now I'm glad that I'm the only one the RoC Tour that has one and I would love to see it stay that way, but I'm realistic. Andy is really building something there with his motor package and it is going to be good for the long term health of our sport. Tonight was definitely evidence of that.”
Leaty held off Hossfeld at the line with Erick Rudolph, Matt Hirschman and a very competitive Jim Storace rounding out the top-five.
Hossfeld is Mr. Excitement on the Outside
Early in the going of Friday's 75-lap race at Spencer, Chuck Hossfeld looked as though he was on a mission. He seemingly pulled to the outside of cars and passed them at will after starting 19th. After pitting, Hossfeld teamed up with Leaty as the duo quickly worked their way through the field. Hossfeld was on the outside of Rusty Smith going for the lead when Smith got loose and forced Hossfeld up the track, opening up the door for Leaty to get the lead.
“We had a real good car tonight,” offered Hossfeld following the race. “Just not good enough to drive by Mike (Leaty). My hat's off to him, he did a great job. I'm disappointed for my guys because we did have such a great car. Kenny (Troyer) did a great job with the setup and as crew chief. It's a shame to finish second with such a good car, but at the end of all this when I get home, we can back it out of the trailer and go to work on making it better the next time. That's important to us, plus it helps our budget out. The fans can definitely say the saw some great racing tonight and that's important. Overall we're satisfied, but obviously we always come to win.”
There was one late race restart that may have provided the opportunity that Hossfeld was looking for on lap 69, but it didn't work out for Hossfeld.
“I hit the back of Mike and the car popped out of gear as we were coming to the green,” Hossfeld explained. “I thought we were going to lose several more spots. We didn't, but it was still a costly mistake and I just couldn't get back to him before the race ended.”
Spencer Notes from the DART RoC Asphalt Modified Tour
Erick Rudolph ran a strong race after starting 17th. He is as good a young-racer as I've seen in many years. Patiently, almost quietly he drove up to third without much fanfare. He's pretty much a chip off the ole' block.
35 cars made their way out to Spencer for the second show of the season. A strong car count for any series.
Pete Brittain, Mike Leaty, Daren Scherer and Billy Putney won the heat races, while Chris Whitenight won the B-Main.
'The Duke' - George Kent - returned to competition at Spencer behind the wheel of one of the Kurzejewski machines because Matt was attending a graduation. Kent drove competitively during the race until spinning into the mud on the front stretch and literally becoming stuck. Eventually two wreckers became stuck trying to rescue Kent's machine. They had to be winched out which caused a lengthy delay. Kent got after it with Matt Hirschman a little but came up on the short end of the stick.
From the DART RoC Public Relations Department; All heat race finishes, with the exception of heat two, saw the official finishing orders changed due to rule infractions by several drivers, which involved an improperly working one way radio. Drivers were told one month ago at Oswego that starting with this race penalties were going to be handed out.
The Dunn Tire Raceway Park (Lancaster) race scheduled for Saturday, June 19th was postponed due to inclement weather and has been rescheduled for Saturday, July 18th.
The Race of Champions Dart Asphalt Modified Tour is sponsored by; Dart Machinery, Hoosier Racing Tires, Gater Racing News, Sunoco Race Fuels, TJ Toyota, Waite Toyota, PBM Performance Products, Dura - Bond, Total Seal Piston Rings, Competition Engineering by Moroso, Dynatech, Xceldyne, CV Products, Afco, and LA Sleeve.
The next event for Race of Champions DART Asphalt Modified Tour is at Wyoming County International Raceway in Perry, N.Y. on Friday night, July 10th.
Race of Champions DART Asphalt Modified Tour, Race Report
REGULAR SEASON RACE # 2
OSWEGO SPEEDWAY RICHIE EVANS MEMORIAL 75 LAPS
1. Mike Leaty
2. Chuck Hossfeld
3. Erick Rudolph
4. Matt Hirschman
5. Jim Storace
6. Billy Putney
7. Jan Leaty
8. Eric Beers
9. Earl Paules
10. Rusty Smith
11. Jimmy Zacharias
12. Pete Brittain
13. Doug Reaume
14. Daren Scherer
15. Tim McMullen
16. Brian Defebo
17. Danny Knoll, Jr.
18. T.J. Potrzebowski
19. Rick Kluth
20. George Kent
21. Mark Tychoniewicz
22. John Markovic
23. Kyle Ebersole
24. Wilbur Hebing
25. Chris Whitenight
26. Dave Silvernail
DNQ's; Matt Clemens, Jeff Hamman, Tom Wiest, Chip Santee, Terry Zacharias, T.J. Zacharias, Ron Smith, Tommy Cloce, Chris Zacharias
LAP LEADERS; ( Rusty Smith 1 ), Jim Storace ( 2-24 ), Smith (25-56), Mike Leaty (57-75)
DART MACHINERY AWARD, SET OF $1,500 DART HEADS; Brittain
GATER RACING NEWS DRIVER BONUS DRAWING $500; Whitenight
HOOSIER RACING TIRE HARD CHARGER AWARD; Hossfeld ( 19th to 2nd ).
HOOSIER RACING TIRE HARD LUCK AWARD; Ebersole ( 5th to 23rd ).