(Sarver, PA) After almost 50 years of racing, Don Martin's Lernerville Speedway is still one of the top tracks in the country. Lernerville has the distinction of being the only track that offers three top paying divisions weekly including the Peoples TWP DIRTcar Sprints; Precise Racing Products DIRTcar Late Models; Diehl Auto Group DIRTcar Northeast Big Block Modifieds; plus the ever popular Millerstown Pic-A-Part DIRTcar Sportsman/Stock.
Long before Don Martin was a track owner and promoter, he was a race fan. His interest dated back to the mid-1940's, after his discharge from the military. In the 1950's, he became involved as a car owner with driver Dick Swartzlander. Later Martin owned a number of cars, ranging from a coupe-bodied Modified to an ex-Indy roadster that ran against the Sprints on Western Pennsylvania tracks in the mid-60's. As a car owner Martin won his share of races, but still referred those days as a financial disaster.
In 1967, Earl Bauman, Dale Hafer, and Bucky Fleming started work on a quarter-mile dirt track at the location of Lernerville Park, which had been a popular amusement park dating back to the 1940's. Martin never planned on owning a track, but the trio needed some help getting things going. So trucking company owner Don Martin joined the group as a partner.
Original plans were to open in the spring of 1968, but an ordinance change set for the beginning of 1968would have kept them from operating. To beat the ordinance, Lernerville Speedway opened for two races in October 1967. Martin freely admitted that the race facility was sub-par for the first two races, and they had to skimp on a lot of things to get the track open early.
But Martin was one of the first promoters to guarantee the purse. The first race was a 100-lapper for Modifieds that brought together the cars of the old Penn-Western Racing Association and the Sportsman cars that raced at Butler, Mercer, Blanket Hill, and Tri-City. The Penn-Western cars were favored, but when the checkered flag waved, it was New Castle's Johnny Axe driving his immaculate number 34 Chevy coupe into victory lane. Ed Lynch Sr. took the only Penn-Western top-three finish over Butler veteran Harry Hein. Other winners that year were Jim Minton and Russ Woolsey.
The first two races were very unsuccessful at the gate forcing Martin to buy out two of the partners a year later. Martin bought out Bauman's interest in 1981 and became sole owner. Bauman continued to help at the track as assistant promoter until he passed away in 1985. Martin continued operating the track as a promoter until his death in 1993. For his contributions to Sprint Car Racing, Martin was posthumously inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.
The next year, Helen Martin and her daughter Patty Roenigk, designated Dave Bauman, Jim Roenigk, and Albert "Ouch" Roenigk, track co-promoters. Dave Bauman passed away in 1998 and Jim Roenigk left to pursue other opportunities the following year.
Garry "Arch" Hunter joined "Ouch" Roenigk to promote the 1999 and 2000 season. As of 2001 "Ouch" Roenigk was the sole promoter.
In 2004 Barb Bauman Bartley & Tom Roenigk (Lernerville Motorsports) took over as Co-Directors and leased the track from the Martin family; then Bartley & Roenigk leased the track from DIRT Motorsports in 2005.
In 2005 Lernerville Speedway was sold to DIRT Motorsports and they continue to run the weekly racing program under the "World Racing Group" Banner led by General Manager Gary Risch Jr. Joining the prestigious Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup in 2007, the Firecracker 100 almost immediately become one of the Crown Jewels of Dirt Late Model Racing and has itself become a destination event. The DIRTcar Round Up Steel City Stampede has become the region's final racing weekend with 10 divisions of racing over three nights with car counts between 250 and over 300 cars!
In 2015, the World Racing Group agreed to sell Lernerville Speedway to Tomson Scrap Metal. The Tomson Family will take ownership and management of the speedway for the beginning of the 2016 season; returning the beloved speedway back to the ownership of a local family of entrepreneurs.
Lernerville Speedway may not have been much to see that first October night in 1967, but now it is one of the best-maintained and successful dirt tracks in the country. The track itself has been enlarged three times, from a small quarter to a large quarter, and then to a 3/8-mile, and finally to its current size as a small half mile. Seating has also been increased several times and now there are approximately 12,000 seats.
Lernerville Speedway is a 4/10 mile dirt oval automobile race track located in Sarver, Pennsylvania, USA. It is currently owned by Tomson Scrap Metal. Lernerville currently hosts World of Outlaws Sprintcar Series and World of Outlaws Late Model Series events. 2015 will mark the 47th season for the track. The track features the "Fab 4" divisions weekly on Fridays from mid April through August. These divisions include the "Big Three"- 410 Sprints, Super Late Models, and Big Block Modifieds, and is the only track in the country to run all three on a weekly basis.
Bob Wearing Sr. 179
Lou Blaney 118
Lynn Geisler 109
Ed Lynch JR 107
Lou Gentile 89
Blackie Watt 84
Brian Swartzlander 78
Ralph Quarterson 61
Johnny Beaber 55
Ed Lynch Sr. 47
(Current Drivers in Italics)
Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup
The headline race at Lernerville Speedway is the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup. The Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup is the highest paying sprint race at Lernerville each year, with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series appearing at the track. The first Silver Cup paid $25,000 to the winner. Following the death of track promotor Don Martin, the Silver Cup was named in memory of Martin. Recently, the race was made into 2 separate races each paying $15,000 to win, with the highest average finisher in the two features being crowned the Silver Cup Champion. This is the only World of Outlaws Sprint Car sanctioned race to have two "A" Features each on a single date. To set up the second feature, all cars that remain on the lead lap are inverted to set up the second feature. Starting in 2011, the format changed again with the overall winner of the Silver Cup required to win one of the two features. This was put into place after the 2010 race, when Donny Schatz won the overall Silver Cup title without winning one of the features. In 2011, NASCAR drivers Kasey Kahne and 2011 NASCAR championTony Stewart competed in this race. Stewart failed to qualify for the race, while Kasey Kahne qualified for the race, and sat on the front row of the 2nd feature. Stewart returned in 2012 to dominate the second 30 lap feature.
Recent Don Martin Silver Cup Winners
2014 - Overall Donny Schatz; Features- Donny Schatz, Cody Darrah
2013 - Overall Donny Schatz; Features- Donny Schatz, Daryn Pittman
2012 - Overall Craig Dollansky Features- Craig Dollansky, Tony Stewart
2011 - Overall Tim Shaffer Features- Dale Blaney, Tim Shaffer
2010 - Overall- Donny Schatz; Features- Lance Dewease, Joey Saldana
2009 – Overall-Danny Lasoski Features- Danny Lasoski, Stevie Smith
2008 – Steve Kinser
2007 – Donny Schatz
2006 – Donny Schatz
2005 – Tim Shaffer
2004 – Sammy Swindell
2003 – Did not run
2002 – Ed Lynch Jr.
2001 – Mark Kinser
2000 – Sammy Swindell
1999 - Mark Kinser
1998 - Mark Kinser
1997 - Mark Kinser
1996 - Mark Kinser
1995 - Stevie Smith
1994 - Steve Kinser
1993 - Jeff Swindell
1992 - Sammy Swindell (inaugural race)
The largest paying race for the late models is the Firecracker 100, held on the last weekend of June. The race draws some of the best traveling late models drivers from the northeast and midwest to compete in the 100 lap feature. In addition, the Uncle Sam 30 is run for those that do not qualify for the 100 lap A-main.
2007- Lernerville held the inaugural Firecracker 100 for the World of Outlaws Late Model Series which was won by Scott Bloomquist.
2008- The 2nd Annual Firecracker 100 was won by Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and Iowa native Brian Birkhofer.
2009- The 3rd Annual Firecracker 100 went to Jimmy Mars, a native of Wisconsin. He overcame a flat tire early, following contact with Mike Blose. He then would storm back through the field, passing Darrell Lanigan on lap 91. Florida native Earl Pearson Jr. ended up 3rd, while Lanigan was 2nd.
2010- The 4th Annual Firecracker 100 featured a new three day format, including two 30 lap preliminaries that set the stage for the 100 lap race. The two preliminaries were won by Josh Richards and Tim McCreadie. The Firecracker 100 was won by Georgia native Shane Clanton. Clanton passed Tim McCreadie on a late restart to take the $30,000 purse. Darrell Lanigan finished 2nd for the third straight year, while 2009 winner Jimmy Mars finished 3rd.
2011- The 5th Annual Firecracker 100 was again staged over the course of three race nights. The two Preliminary features were won by past World Of Outlaw Champion Josh Richards and the inaugural Firecracker 100 Champion Scott Bloomquist. The first night of preliminary action saw a very fast surface, with Rick Eckert breaking the track record in qualify (15.000). The final night of racing featured a much slower and slicker surface. Fittingly, the "Ice Man" Jimmy Mars mastered the slick surface, becoming the first repeat winner of this race. Mars passed Scott Bloomquist early in the race, and easily cruised to the win. Bloomquist would finish in 2nd behind Mars, but would stage a protest on Mars' tires following the race. Mars would later be confirmed as the race winner after lab tests confirmed he used legal tires.
2012- The 6th Annual Firecracker 100 weekend took place over three nights with many firsts. Scott Bloomquist was able to win the night one preliminary after passing Mike Marlar late in the 30 lap race. The next night saw the first win by a native Pennsylvanian during the Firecracker 100, as Dan Stone was able to hold off Bloomquist to win the 30 lap race. The finale 100 lapper saw Scott Bloomquist dominate, leading 99 of 100 laps. Darrell Lanigan and past winner Shane Clanton each closed in on Bloomquist but could never make the pass. Langian finished 2nd for the fourth time in the 100 lapper, with Tim McCreadie 3rd, Clanton 4th, and Dale McDowell 5th. This was the first time a driver has won a preliminary and the 100 lap feature. Also, Jared Miley was the first Lernerville Regular to score a top 10 finish, after crossing the line in 8th from his 23rd starting position.
2013- The 7th Annual Firecracker 100 was swept by the "Rocketman" Josh Richards, becoming the first driver to sweep all three features including both preliminary 30 lap features and the Firecracker 100 Finale. Heavy rains plagued the entire weekend, which created a very wet and tacky surface for the 100 lapper with a large,rough cushion. This was unlike any prior Firecracker 100, which typically features a slicker, slower track. This caused many cars to experience motor troubles and blown tires, creating 11 cautions and 2 red flags which led to only 10 cars running at the finish among the 28 car starting field. Richards passed two time Firecracker 100 Champion Scott Bloomquist and never relinquished the lead again. Several challengers to Richards experienced troubles throughout the race: 2010 Champion Shane Clanton hit the cushion and blew a tire on lap 49 while closing for the lead, John Blankenship also hit the cushion and broke his nose piece while closing for the lead on lap 51, Bloomquist blew a motor on lap 69 while running 2nd, Rick Eckert broke a rear end while battling for the lead in the closing laps. Tim McCreadie settled for second, while Darrell Langian came up short once again finishing 3rd. Gregg Satterlee rallied to finish 4th after pitting for tires, becoming just the second Pennsylvania driver to score a top 5 finish in the Firecracker. First time entry Jared Landers came home 5th.
2014- The 8th Annual Firecracker 100 was won by World of Outlaws regular Darrell Lanigan. After coming very close in previous Firecrackers, Lanigan finally captured this prestige race. The event was called with 10 laps to go, as a heavy rain fell on the track. Lanigan held off the charges from two time winner Scott Bloomquist, while John Blankenship, Dale McDowell and Jimmy Mars rounded out the top five. Georgia's Jonathan Davenport led the first 67 laps in impressive fashion but mechanical troubles ended his night. "Club 29" Racecars swept the weekend, as Lanigan won the 30 lap preliminary Thursday and Jimmy Owens (his first appearance since 2009) won on Friday. Bloomquist finished runner-up on all three nights.
The 2015 Firecracker 100 was won by Rick Eckert, who became the first Pennsylvania driver to win the event. Eckert passed local standout Jared Miley on lap 64 and then pulled away from Shane Clanton in the latter stages en route to victory. Miley, who led the first 63 laps, finished 3rd, marking the highest finisher for a local driver in the Firecracker 100. Clanton and Chase Junghans won the preliminarily events before the original Firecracker 100 was rained out in June. The race was rescheduled on Labor Day weekend, along with the Working Man 50, which was also won by Clanton.
2015 - Rick Eckert
2014 - Darrell Lanigan
2013 - Josh Richards
2012 - Scott Bloomquist
2011 - Jimmy Mars
2010 - Shane Clanton
2009 – Jimmy Mars
2008 – Brian Birkhofer
2007 – Scott Bloomquist
Early years and construction
Lernerville first opened for racing in 1967. The ground where Lernerville speedway currently is located was once a popular amusement park and skating rink. Their first full year was in 1968. Sprint cars, modifieds and late models were a part of the program.
Since 1993, Lernerville has run the Sprints, Late Models, Modifieds and Sportsman divisions, thus being the only track in the country to run the "Big 3" (Sprints, Big Block Modifieds, and Super Late Models). Don Martin was promoter of the track until his death in 1993. Dave Bauman took this duty along with Ouch Roenigk until Bauman's death in 1998. Ouch Roenigk then took over as sole promoter until 2004, when Barb and Tom Bartley were assigned to the position. World Racing Group purchased the speedway in 2005. In 2006, long-time motorsports competitors and fans Gary Risch, Jr. and his dad, Gary Sr., were assigned to the promote the weekly program. In 2015, Tomson Scrap Metal purchased the speedway under an agreement that WRG would operate it for the remainder of the 2015 racing season. The track operates mainly on Friday nights from late March through early September. There are also various specials throughout the season on Tuesday nights, along with season-ending specials on Saturdays in September and October.
In 2012, Lernerville also ran a weekly program under UMP dirtcar sanctioning, which includes a tire rule with Hoosier for the Super Late Model division. All divisions that run at the track are UMP DIRTcar sanctioned: DIRTCar 410 Sprints, UMP DIRTcar Late Models, DIRTCar Big Block Modifieds, DIRTCar Sportsman, DIRTCar Pro Late Models, UMP DIRTCar Modifieds, DIRTcar Mod Lites, DIRTcar 4's.
The track has had tremendous success in its 43 years of racing. The highest-paid winner ever was 40,000 for a WoO Sprint and WoO Late Model races. The qualifying track record for sprint cars is held by Joey Saldana at 12.334 seconds, and the late model track record is owned by Rick Eckert at an even 15.000 seconds.
Lernerville has had races televised on SPEED and ESPN2, including the Firecracker 100, The Showdown in Sarvertown, and the Silver Cup WoO events.
Past Special events
WoO Late Models Firecracker 100, WoO Sprint Silver Cup, All Star Late Model, All Star Sprint Car, Steel City Stampede, USAC Sprint Cars, BRP Modified Tour, FASTRAK Late Models,UFo Late Models, MACS Late Models, ULMS late models, UEMS Modifieds.