Marc Schifferle has what he terms a "sickness". Unlike the flu, his sickness is one he and many others enjoy. He is plagued by an overwhelming desire to climb behind the wheel of a dragster and race down a strip.
Schifferle, 63, of Lancaster, has had a long career filled with glory, including wins, championship and awards. He also has faced tragedy twice and lived to tell about it during a racing career that began in 1967 and continues to roll on.
As evidence that he can still get the job done, Schifferle won the weekly Street class race last Thursday at Dunn Tire Raceway Park. He is DTRP's defending Street class champion.
"I've had a good long career," said Schifferle. "Although I've had wins throughout my career, my glory years, the ones that made my name, where in the 1970s in my 1973 Vega where I won six consecutive Lancaster Dragway (now DTRP) Super Gas championships from 1974 to 1979. I also won two Super Pro titles at Dragway Park (Ont.) Cayuga during that time.
"There is no doubt that during those years I was having the time of my life. I was winning all kinds of races. I had come a long way in drag racing since I started racing in 1967 at Lancaster in my Chevelle. I wasn't a real tough competitor when I was just starting out but it got a lot better."
Schifferle's fortunes changed when he was given a chance to drive a 1987 Corvette in the NHRA Super Comp class at the quarter-mile Dragway Park Cayuga. The car was too fast for Lancaster's one-eighth mile strip.
"Seven weeks before the end of the season, on Labor Day weekend, I had a right front strut break during a run at 164 miles per hour," Schifferle said. "There were no walls at Dragway Park back then that far down the track and I sailed onto the lawn and the car took off and cleared the scoreboard in what was a very bad crash.
"I had major head injuries. I was in Canada for eight weeks on life support. Then they flew me home and I was in ECMC until the following June. I didn't go back drag racing until 1991. I just couldn't get the racing out of my system. There was the 'sickness' back again. It was still in my blood."
Near tragedy struck again in 2008, when a front wheel broke and Schifferle hit the guard rail at New York International Raceway Park (now Empire Dragway) with the Vega, which rolled over seven times. Schifferle suffered a broken back.
He returned and last year won the Street class championship.
"I want to thank my wife Sue for all her love as well as her support of my racing sickness over many of these years. She is special to me. I also want to thank Joe Schmitz, who visited me often in ECMC and also Carl Ettipio of Competition Transmissions for all his support.
"I'm finally thinking about a possible retirement. I'll think about it after this season but I guess we'll all have to wait and see what happens as I don't know if the sickness has been cured yet. It's been a great ride either way."
. Team Dunn Tire Raceway Park, 43 local racers in various classes, will compete against nine other drag racing teams from throughout the Northeast at Pittsburgh Raceway Park in the IHRA Summit Racing Equipment Division 3 North Stars Team Finals, today through Sunday.
Representing Team DTRP in the Top ET class are Zell Gaymon, Tim Moore, Wayne Cleveland, Doug Lynden, Jim Green, Jeff and Jim Sobczynski, Jan Winkowski, Kevin Frank, Paul Cochi, Jeff Blamowski, Mark Talmadge and Tom Wieczorek.
Those in Quick 32 are: Pete Maduri Jr., Joe Passero, Mike Nowak, Mike Swinarski. Mod ET racers are: Dale Eckert, Carey Hodge, Jeff Kerl, Don Schafer, Mike Hickey, Alan Swader, Paul Crane, Jim Kalinowski, Joe Karosik, Dave, Mike and Brittany Balser, Louie Martina and Cal Phillips. In Street ET is Ted Skarupinski.
Bikes/Sleds are: Brian Leiser, Patrick and Gerry Vaughan, Mike Peters, Dick and Mike Nearhoof. In Junior Dragster are: Robert Bauer III, J.J. Passero, Billy Click and John Chittenden.
Little Valley Speedway champions for 2012 are: Jason Dupont, Super Late Models; John Waters, 360 Late Models; Randy Hall, E-Mods; Adam Ashcroft, Street Stocks.
. Ron Davies won the Super Late Model 30-lap season closing feature last Saturday at Little Valley but Dupont finished eighth to edge Davies for the title by a single point.
"It's a good feeling," said Dupont of his first career Little Valley championship. "We worked hard all year. We had a pretty good year but ended on a bad note. I didn't run too well tonight. . But, all in all, it was a good year."
. Ransomville Speedway 4- Banger and Fireball division champions for 2012 are Dave Sheehan and Jim Stone, respectively.
. Humberstone Speedway titlists are Cody McPherson, Sportsman; Jordan Peters, FASTRAK Crate Late Models; Jason Fontaine, Street Stocks; Mike Toovey, Pro-Four Trucks; Kyle Pelerine, Mini Stocks; Kyle Rothwell, Pure Stocks. Humberstone will run its season-closing Eve of Destruction on Sunday at 1 p.m.