The most exciting special award of DIRTcar OktoberFAST presented by DIRTVision was the classic Hard Charger Award. Five exceptional partners added an additional $250 bonus for the driver who advanced the most positions during the course of the Feature: The Hard Charger Award.
To receive the Hard Charger Award, a driver usually suffers a difficult start to the race night. Sometimes the team misses the setup for Time Trials when the track is heavy or slicker than expected. A poor Time Trial lap results in a poor starting position in the Heat Race. In other instances, a driver might run into mechanical or incidental trouble while in a transfer position causing them to drop out despite wielding a fast race car.
Even seven-time Super DIRTcar Series champions have off days. Matt Sheppard struggled to get his No. 9S to handle throughout the first half of the week including Albany’s OktoberFAST kick off where he was forced to qualify through the Last Chance Showdown.
Sheppard then started in the twenty-first position for the 60-lap Feature. From there it was hammer down for the Waterloo, NY Big Block driver. Sheppard motored up twelve positions to capture the Bart Contracting Hard Charger Award at Albany.
Tim Sears Jr., from Clay, NY, knows his way around Fulton Speedway. Sears failed to qualify out of his Heat Race but he made it into the top three of his Last Chance Showdown after starting ninth. He proved his Fulton skills on Penske Racing Shocks night by advancing twelve positions from twenty-fifth to thirteenth.
Demetrios Drellos was forced to use a Super DIRTcar Series provisional in order to start the 60-lap Feature at Can-Am Speedway. Drellos struggled all night until the Feature when “Double D” turned on the afterburners to pick up nine spots in the Feature for the St. Lawrence Radiology Hard Charger Award.
Erick Rudolph, from Ransomville, NY, calls Land of Legends Raceway home on Saturday nights for the Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship. Unfortunately, that home track advantage did not aid the pilot of the No. 25R until Feature time. He barely made the field out of the Heat Race, finishing fifth, which put him back in the nineteenth starting position.
Finally, when the 60-lap Feature took the green, Rudolph was set up. He powered through fifteen rivals on his way to a fourth-place finish for the SuperGen Products/Champion Power Equipment $250 Hard Charger bonus.
The most dramatic Hard Charger award came at the DIRTcar OktoberFAST finale at Weedsport Speedway sponsored by Stirling Lubricants. Mike Mahaney, from King Ferry, NY, had a stellar week of racing during OktoberFAST picking up podiums at all four races going into Weedsport.
It looked like that would continue as he qualified for the redraw out of the Heat Race. Unfortunately, Mahaney was disqualified from the Heat Race results due to a shock infringement. After that, the No. 35 started scratch in the Last Chance Showdown where he drove up through the field and nearly made the show.
Mahaney took a Series provisional to start the Feature and he was a man on a mission. He made precise moves and gambled when necessary to advance all the way to tenth place at the conclusion of the 75-lap Feature.
DIRTcar OktoberFAST Hard Charger Awards
Albany-Saratoga Speedway – Bart Contracting Hard Charger – Matt Sheppard +12
Fulton Speedway – Penske Racing Shocks Hard Charger Tim Sears +12
Can-Am Speedway – St. Lawrence Radiology –Demetrios Drellos +9
Land of Legends Raceway – SuperGen Products/Champion Power Equipment– Erick Rudolph +15
Weedsport Speedway – Stirling Lubricants – Mike Mahaney +17
OSWEGO, NY – As we all wait impatiently for the start of this year’s edition of the Super DIRTcar Series, I look back to when it all started. I was just a junior in college at SUNY Oswego.
There had been various modified racing series over the years. There were Challenge Cups and there were attempts to have team races representing tracks from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Canada with three members to each team. A novel concept.
However, none had them staying power of what has become the Super DIRTcar Series. But who are the legends, the men to beat, and the future stars of the series? Let’s start with the all-time Super DIRTcar Series Feature winners list.
Top 10 All-Time Super DIRTcar Series Feature Winners List (Points and Non-Points)
140 Brett Hearn 89 Danny Johnson 78 Matt Sheppard 70 Billy Decker 57 Alan Johnson 39 Bob McCreadie 32 Stewart Friesen 31 Jack Johnson 31 Tim Fuller 28 Jimmy Horton
I remember when the Schaefer Circle of Champions raced the what would become the first series shows back in 1972 at tracks like Five Mile Point, Rolling Wheels, Fonda, Flemington, Twin Valley, Orange County, Nazareth, East Windsor, Lebanon Valley, Weedsport, Merrittville and The Mile.
Winners included the likes of Buzzie and Wayne Reutimann along with Will Cagle, Kenny Brightbill, Dick Hansen, Don Beagell, Chuck Ciprich, Stan Ploski, and Bobby Rossell. These names were always at the top of the results in the race papers.
The Super DIRTcar Series has been the lone series that brought together the elite of Northeast Modified racing on a regular basis. For fans, it is treated to have so many of the legends of the tour still with us today and competing on a regular basis.
The winningest driver is Brett Hearn and although he has taken up a management role at Orange County, he hasn’t totally walked away from possibly running a Super DIRTcar Series show from time to time.
Whoever would have thought that Danny Johnson, who won his first tour race in 1983, would be second in the all-time win list and still be racing when the resumption of action commences in 2020.
Youthful compared to the guys he is surrounded by in the all-time win list, Matt Sheppard is third and he’s managed to achieve that climb in just 15 years.
The other still competitive drivers in the top 10 list of all-time winners include Billy Decker, Alan Johnson, Tim Fuller, Stewart Friesen, and Jimmy Horton.
Alan Johnson still finds time to hit the tour while The Sensational One Jimmy Horton is usually on the roster for NAPA Super DIRT Week and when the tour hits Orange County.
Tim Fuller has been running the tour on and off for years successfully. His win total would be far more substantial it not for his years following the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model tour.
There is no doubt that within the next 10 years The Doctor, Billy, Alan, Tomkins, Fuller, and Tremont will find other things to do other than sit in the cockpit of a Modified.
Okay, so maybe The Doctor will never quit, but you never know.
The Men to Beat
Obviously, Matt Sheppard has set the bar and after four consecutive years of winning the title will continue to be the man to beat.
Mat Williamson had the season of his life a year ago in capturing the Super DIRTcar Series title and the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 at NAPA Super Dirt Week and he too is going to be around for a long time to come.
Others who will help maintain the high caliber of racing on the Series include Larry Wight and Erick Rudolph.
Stewart Friesen also should find his way to his share of SDS shows as he too is one helps the tour maintain its luster.
I think Peter Britten and Mike Mahaney will continue to be mainstays on the tour fielding strong entries year after year.
Teams change goals and aspirations. For some, the thrill of running on the tour and the prestige that comes with it is a dream or their ultimate goal in racing. They try it, for maybe a year or two, and say, “Well, I did it.” However, others are in for the long haul.
Jimmy Phelps is a driver that can get hot any minute and be a real threat on the tour.
Betting on Futures
How does it feel predicting the future Super DIRTcar Series stars? Let me use just one word…Unpredictable.
Certainly, Demetrios Drellos made his presence known last year as a rookie and getting his first tour win as even when I talked to him in February still couldn’t believe his team actually won in the very first year.
Jack Lehner is still quite young and he has a program that might allow him to be in this thing for the long run. He’s still learning and getting his feet wet. Jack made strides last year and he is one of the Young Ones.
Chris Hile, a regular in Central New York, has proven to be competitive the series races he selects to run. He is doing the tour for the first time this year and if he can adapt to some tracks he’s never seen he could be a contender. There is no reason why he couldn’t finish in the top ten in the point standings.
If anyone has followed Tim Sears Jr. they know just by watching him for one single night that this kid has talent. The team has received some assistance from John Wight over the years when they are in need, but he would be a tremendous addition to the series. He is the future of Big Block Modified racing and needs to find a ride.
There are a bunch of DIRTcar 358 drivers with the talent to make that step up if sponsors and support can be found including Davie Marcuccilli, Corey Wheeler, Kyle Dingwall, Ryan Arbuthnot, and Jordan McCready.
However, my base of operation is in Central New York so those are the drivers that stand out to me. Series talent comes from all parts of the Northeast and Canada.
It’s difficult to see what the future might hold especially in the crazy world we are currently surviving in. When the economy eventually bounces back, the sponsors and fans will be able to remain involved and the longest Big Block Modified series in the Northeast will continue to give fans their fill of the stars of racing.
There is no crystal ball, but in witnessing racing since the late 60’s I thoroughly understand that times change, drivers change, racing changes, but our sport and in this case the Super DIRTcar Series live on.
Billy Foley is a prolific writer for racing news website Dirt Track Digest and announcers weekly at Brewerton and Fulton Speedways.
MALTA, NY – September 21, 2019 – It’s a rare moment in motorsports when a rookie pulls out a huge victory in the top echelon of their driving discipline. On this night, Rookie of the Year contender Demetrios Drellos did just that, shocking the world of Big Block Modified racing by winning his first Super DIRTcar Series race at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in one of the biggest races of the year.
Drellos battled back the best in the business including Matt Sheppard, Larry Wight, Billy Decker, and Mat Williamson to pick up $10,000 and a guaranteed start in the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 at NAPA Super DIRT Week XLVIII. Billy Decker crossed the line in second and Mat Williamson had his two-race win streak broken with a third-place finish.
The night of racing started out well for the Queensbury, NY driver Demetrios Drellos after setting the second fastest lap in his Time Trial group, which put the No. 111 on the outside pole for his Heat Race. Pole-sitter Matt Sheppard got the best of him but soon the roles were reversed. In the Dig Safely NY 811 Redraw, Drellos drew the pole position and Matt Sheppard’s designated drawer put the No. 9s on the outside pole.
At the drop of the green flag, The Greek Streak outdueled Sheppard to retain the top spot in the early going. He eventually stretched out a substantial lead with the first caution coming around lap 40. After that, the rest of the heavy-hitters like Larry Wight, Billy Decker, and Mat Williamson stepped up to the plate but Drellos denied all-comers.
“Every lap that clicked by I thought Larry, Matt, Billy, or Williamson would get by on the bottom. I was just so persistent on the top. I know it’s really risky picking the top lane here on the restarts but the top has been so fast here. It worked out for me,” said Drellos.
The No. 111 pilot sliced and diced his way through heavy lapped traffic in the latter half of the race. The track conditions were conducive to fast, side-by-side racing, which made the traffic difficult to work through.
“I follow a lot of good guys on the Series and they aren’t afraid to take risks in lapped traffic. You gotta go and if you don’t go, someone’s gonna pounce on you,” Drellos explained.
Needless to say, Drellos was a very happy driver in Victory Lane. He’s worked hard learning new tracks and refining his Time Trial program all season.
“It’s been such a learning curve running with these guys every week and it’s finally paid off.”
Drellos’ voice wavered with emotion as The Voice of the Super DIRTcar Series Shane Andrews interviewed him in Victory Lane when he said, “I watched a lot of Super DIRTcar Series races from those seats right up there and it feels really amazing to be standing down here not too many years later beating the best.”
The win will take a little time to sink in because it’s a rare feat to beat your heroes at their own game:
“I’m speechless, to be honest. You have Mat Williamson, Matt Sheppard, Billy Decker, Pat Ward, Tim Fuller, I mean, I’ve watched those guys for years. They are just unbelievable stars here. Just to say I beat them in a Super DIRTcar Series race is something I never even dreamed of.”
The Franklyn Flyer Billy Decker was the final driver to reach the rear bumper of the No. 111 but he too failed to overtake the young rookie.
Mat Williamson now has four podium finishes in a row including two race wins. The team has been constent all year but now Williamson is clicking off great finishes and has begun reeling in points leader Matt Sheppard.
“Confidence as a lot to do with it. It seems like when we won Orange County [Centennial Celebration] it started rolling from there. Forutnately I have a really good car owner and really good crew guys. They make my job real easy behind the wheel,” noted Williamson.
The racing surface was tacky and provided a lot of grip from the bottom to the top of the speedway.
“We tried to move all over the place. The track was really fast and racy,” said Williamson. “I think we tightened up a little bit too much. Demetrios was really good. Hats off to those guys, it’s cool to see him win.”
Mike Mahaney stormed through the field to pick up sixteen positions as the KSE Racing Hard-Charger Award. He finished seventh after starting deep in the field, but the tenacious Huttig No. 35 team’s hard work paid off.
In the Dig Safely NY 811 Redraw, Peter Britten had his daughter for a designated drawer. The curly-haired youngster joyfully picked up a neon yellow t-shirt and awarded Britten one free Hoosier Racing Tire, but also a twelfth place starting position.
Home-track hero Kenny Tremont Jr., who picked up the 2019 Mr. DIRT Track USA title at Lebanon Valley Speedway, set the fastest lap in Time Trials, which granted him the Billy Whittaker Cars Fast-Time Award.
The next Super DIRTcar Series race is the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 on Sunday, October 13 at Oswego Speedway to conclude NAPA Super DIRT Week XLVIII.
Rookie of the Year contender Demetrios Drellos won his first Super DIRTcar Series race at Albany-Saratoga Speedway and it was a big one. Drellos battled back the best in the business in including Matt Sheppard, Larry Wight, Billy Decker, and Mat Williamson to pick up $10,000 and a guaranteed start in the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 at NAPA Super DIRT Week XLVIII. Billy Decker crossed the line in second and Mat Williamson had his two-race win streak broken with a third-place finish.
Ready to Launch: Demetrios Drellos to Take on Super DIRTcar Series Full-Time
CONCORD, NC – December 20, 2018 – From Soap Box Derby cars to Big-Block Modifieds, Demetrios Drellos has quickly made a name for himself racing DIRTcar Modifieds in Eastern New York. Now he, and car owners Dawn and George Drellos, are preparing to take their Bicknell Racing Products chassis out on the Super DIRTcar Series tour. The 22 year-old Queensbury, NY native knows that if you wants to make it in Big-Block Modified racing, you have to follow the Super DIRTcar Series, and race against the best in the business. But a driver doesn’t wake up one day and decide to do this. Drellos has had a fascinating path to Big-Block Modified racing.
Super DIRTcar Series Kicks Off World Finals with Qualifying
CONCORD, NC – November 1, 2018 – Forty-two Big-Block Modifieds made the tow to premier dirt track racing facility The Dirt Track at Charlotte for the 2018 edition of the World of Outlaws World Finals presented by Can-Am. Two rounds of timed Hot Laps and two sets of Heat Races set the lineups for both Friday and Saturday’s Feature events. The big winner was Mike Mahaney from King Ferry, NY who took the checkered flag in both of his Heat Races.