Last season, I wrote about the second annual Frank Sagi Tribute at Hagerstown Speedway being an event that was like a true blast from the past when it came to the nostalgic feeling I got when I walked through the gates on that Sunday evening.
Once again, this past Sunday evening at the Hub City half-mile was like a blast from the past for many racers and fans that have went to and currently go to for their dirt track racing fix.
The third annual Frank Sagi Tribute featured former Super Late Model and NASCAR driver Tom Peck as the special guest honoree, along with many other drivers and owners from years gone by, and this time, I got to spend a little time with a few of those greats.
Race organizer Alan Sagi saw me in the crowd at the Meet & Greet and told me that Irvin King wanted me to come speak with him. So I made it a point to go spend some time with one of the area’s legendary racers.
King is still farming in Jefferson County outside of Charles Town, and we briefly chatted, him telling my dad and I a story of how he juggled farming and racing, working on his race car and milking the cows before heading to the race track.
King raced in the Super Modified area before they evolved into Sprint Cars and was the Hagerstown Speedway Sprint Car track champion in 1970. He told me that he still attends bigger shows such as the Knoxville Nationals in Iowa and the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Oklahoma each year.
If you visit the website www.sprintsource.com, look up King’s career stats. It’s loaded with wins and many top-five finishes where he drove his red and white No. 86.
Sitting across from King was Paul Stein, who was a racer I remembered as a very young kid but not for a car he was better known for. When I mentioned the car I remembered him driving, Stein perked up and smiled.
Stein is best remembered for driving a brown No. 52 Chevy Chevelle, but it was the No. 25 Cooper Motors Mercury Cougar with a big block 427 Ford engine. That was a unique and a beautifully built race car that I saw race at Hagerstown and Williams Grove Speedway around 1980.
Then I made my way to the table where Nathan Durboraw and Slim Devilbiss were sitting. Just listening to the stories those two were trading for a few minutes was some really good stuff. I told Durboraw a story of what he told my dad during the fuel stop of the 1989 Conococheague 100.
Durboraw started on the pole of that race and faded back to sixth before the break at the halfway point. As my dad and I were walking across the track from the pits to watch the second half of the race, Durboraw said, “Kenny, I’m going to win this race. I’ve been saving my tires, so go up and get a good seat. Watch me with 20 laps to go.”
Durboraw did just that and won, as he did many, many more times.
That’s what makes this event great: being able to mingle with our racing heroes from the past and reminiscing from those days with them. As I told Kyle McFadden of The Motorsports Dig podcast, I said I’d be lying if I wasn’t already looking forward to doing this again next year.
Last Lap Quick Notes: A great field of cars assembled in each division for this special event, as did many fans that showed up proving that Sunday evening is still a viable day for local dirt track racing.
Kyle Lee drove his way to the Super Late Model triumph in the Frank Sagi Tribute.
Pole sitter Jason Covert and Marvin Winters paced the field from the front row, and Winters powered into the lead in his throwback of Tom Peck’s “Fireball 40.”
A caution for a multi-car pileup quickly negated Winters’ lead, but he was able to maintain his position over Covert following the restart until he slowed going into turn four on the seventh lap.
Covert inherited the lead but now had Lee to contend with, and on Lap 8, Lee drove underneath the potent No. 72 machine for the lead off of turn two.
Lee began to stretch out his lead by a two-second margin at the halfway point and then began navigating traffic on Lap 19. The Mercersburg, Pennsylvania driver maneuvered his No. 2t through the back markers to keep Covert at bay and take the checkered flag.
Covert held on to second, fending off a fast-closing Trever Feathers coming from 10th to finish third. Rounding out the top five were Gene Knaub and Tyler Bare.
Scott Palmer picked up the Late Model Sportsman win for his 20th career LMS win. Interesting to note is his car number is No. 86 because of Irvin King, and King joined Palmer in Victory Lane after his LMS victory. Palmer also did double duty, finishing 14th with his SLM.
Craig Parrill and third-generation driver Michael Warrnefeltz battled side by side for most the Pure Stock feature event until Warrenfeltz ran into the lapped car of Jeremy Mills, bringing out the final caution with just a couple laps to go in the 15-lap race.
Parrill led the restart and at the white flag lap, but Warrenfeltz was able to pull alongside the leader halfway down the backstretch and into the lead going into Turn 3 over the remaining quarter of a lap to grab the win.
Driver Logan Wagner of 410 Sprint Cars made his Super Late Model debut behind the wheel of the Coleman Farms No. 72 and made a valiant effort to make the show. He was awarded a provisional where he started 25th and finished in 19th after falling out of the race.
Coming up this week is the start of Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek at Williams Grove this Friday night. This is a major week of 410 Sprint Carracing in the region, and I hope to make as many shows as possible. The tour makes a stop at Hagerstown on July 4.