Local auto racing: Firecracker 100 brings racers, fans together at Lernerville

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The eighth annual World of Outlaws Late Model Series Firecracker 100 weekend began Thursday night at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, with full events capped off by $6,000 to win feature races that continue today, leading up to the $30,000 to win Firecracker 100 on Saturday.

For the fans, the Firecracker is a great opportunity to see the drivers up-close on and off the track.

At 1 p.m. today, on the football field next to the raceway, the second annual Firecracker 100 Kick-It Cup will feature two teams of WoO LMS, regional and Lernerville drivers pitted against each other in a kick-ball game. The proceeds will go toward raising awareness and money for programs and research to combat childhood cancer.

On Saturday, there will be a wiener roast, a horseshoe and cornhole tournament starting at noon, followed by an autograph session at 4 p.m.

Last year, Josh Richards made history by sweeping all three racing events.

Unfortunately for Richards, he isn’t driving this year for medical reasons. Rick Eckert, of York, Pa., now drives the Rocket house car.

“He won all three nights at the Firecracker,” Eckert said of Richards. “To win one night at the Firecracker would be really cool. To win all three nights is something you might never see again.”

Eckert is looking forward to the week for many reasons.

“I like anything involved with the fans,” said Eckert, who admits the only time all year he plays horseshoes is at the Firecracker. “That’s the neat thing about Lernerville, you get to interact with the fans.”

Dave Hess Jr. won the Mid-Season Championship last Friday while Alex Ferree captured the point lead, which awarded both drivers a provisional starting spot in Saturday’s race.

Racing resumes at PRP

Pittsburgh Raceway Park has completed the construction that interrupted its racing schedule. Tonight, the IHRA drag strip in New Alexandria will be back in action with two classes racing, each paying $1,000 to win.

On Saturday, the Westmoreland County facility presents the annual Night of Fire event along with regular racing in all classes. Time trials begin at 3 p.m.

Along with the Superwinch wheelstander, Pro Mods, Jill Canuso in the Queen of Diamonds jet dragster and alcohol, nitro and jet funny cars, fans will see the return of drag racing legend and Hall of Famer, Carol “Bunny” Burkett to Western Pennsylvania.

Now in her 49th year of drag racing, the Spotsylvania, Va., resident will compete Saturday in a funny car vs. altered race.

Burkett has driven everything from stock to Top Fuel dragsters, and the 1986 IHRA Alcohol Funny Car Champion has had her share of setbacks.

A racing crash in 1995 nearly took her life, but Burkett rebounded to race again. Burkett, who also is a breast cancer survivor, knows exactly where she finds the motivation to keep racing.

“At this stage in my life it is definitely the fans that keep me going. If it were for money, I would have had to quit a long time ago, and if it were for the glory, let’s just say, I have been there, done that,” Burkett said. “I just keep coming back because it is the fans that get me out of every predicament, every illness and every crash.”

Spectator gates open at 2 p.m., with the Pro Mod qualifying races beginning at 4 and 5:30 p.m. The Night of Fire show times are 7 and 9:30 p.m., with fireworks after the final session.

Go to www.pittsburghracewaypark.com for more information.


Motordrome Speedway, the NASCAR weekly racing series oval in Smithton, Westmoreland County, will host the Mid-Season Championship with double points for all five divisions. … Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway will not race Saturday but will return to action on at 6 p.m. Sunday with all five divisions, plus sprint cars. … Danny Holgraver hopes to compete at PPMS on Sunday after winning at Eldora during Ohio Speedweek.

DJ Johnson: DJ1360rpm@aol.com.

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