Although the local racing season has not reached the halfway mark, Erick Rudolph is having a season that is both remarkable and special. He continued the momentum Saturday night at Elegant Builders Raceway Park in Lancaster when he captured the Hoosier Modified Series “Mr. Modified” 100.
That gave Rudolph victories so far on asphalt at Elegant Builders and on dirt at Humberstone, Ransomville and Merrittville speedways.
It once was common for Modified drivers to win on both types of surfaces, asphalt and dirt, and often with the same car. But in this age of custom-built cars that are surface specific, Modifieds raced on dirt, such as this area’s 358s, are far different from those run on asphalt. As the cars have become specialized so have the drivers.
On Saturday, Rudolph cruised to victory in Lancaster in his EJM Motorsports No. 51 asphalt machine owned by Pennsylvania’s Ed McGuire.
“We’re having a pretty good year,” Rudolph said. “This is our first win on asphalt this year, and maybe we’ll pick up a few more before the end of the year comes.”
When reminded how rare it is to win on both surfaces, Rudolph said: “I know this used to happen all the time but not so much anymore. I guess I just skipped a couple decades.”
In the tech garage after Saturday’s race, McGuire wore a big smile.
“The car was flawless in the feature tonight but we had to do a lot of work to get it that way,” said McGuire. “We had a lot of problems when we first got here today. We had to change a flywheel, the starter rings and solve a bunch of problems including the torque arm. I think we rebuilt the car.
“I love this. I don’t have any other hobbies. I work seven days a week even though I’m 68 years old to get the money to do this. I love racing up here in Lancaster and Lori (Overdorf – facility’s stock car coordinator) is real good to us. I drove a school bus for 50 years so I do that and I’m in the gas field industry.”
Following Rudolph on Saturday were Daren Scherer and Chuck Hossfeld.
There was a spectacular accident at a Race of Champions Modified Tour event Friday at Spencer Speedway in Williamson involving Hossfeld and Matt Hirschman. There have been other controversial moments between the two fueled by bad blood.
According to a Spencer Speedway press release, Hirschman was trying to pass Hossfeld on the high side on lap 65. There was contact and Hirschman landed atop the backstretch wall before flipping out of the speedway.
The release added that under the ensuing red flag, Hirschman ran across the track to confront Hossfeld, who was parked on the front stretch. Hossfeld drove away to avoid the confrontation. He was disqualified immediately and awaits possible sanctioning in today’s ruling, which could include a ban from Race of Champions events.
Hossfeld could be barred from ROC competition for the rest of this season, according to unsubstantiated reports.
“I haven’t heard anything from the officials,” said Hossfeld. “I don’t know and I don’t care. I’ve been racing since I’ve been 12 with Go-karts and I’ve been racing Modifieds a long time, and Friday I didn’t do anything wrong or intentional. I do drive Matt hard when he drives me hard. It seems he starts it every single time and I finish it.
“Again, I didn’t do anything intentional in that particular incident. If they want to suspend me I don’t care. I can’t control that. I’ll race somewhere else or I just won’t race and I’ll enjoy riding my motorcycle and hang out with my girlfriend all summer and have fun.”
One class of asphalt racing that has been growing has been the TQ Midgets, with fields the last two years averaging 20-23 cars. All local events were run under the Casey’s TQ Midget Racing Series banner.
Last winter, a spat within the Casey’s group led to the formation of a rival group, the Empire State TQ Midget Series. The Casey’s group has been renamed the New York/Pennsylvania Midget Racing Association (NYPAMA). Many nights, the series running concurrently at different tracks.
Based solely on car count, the NYPAMA is fairing much better with more than 20 cars at its races including 21 Saturday at Holland. The Empire group, which offers good purses and races exclusively at Elegant Builders Raceway Park, has often had fewer than 10 entrantss. An embarrassing six cars showed up Saturday night.