MAHANEY MATTERS: Mike Mahaney is ready to fly in 2020

CONCORD, NC – King Ferry, NY’s Mike Mahaney has a reputation. In the pit area, the full-time Super DIRTcar Series competitor has a smile as wide as a front stretch is long but on the track, he’s known as a ferocious competitor.

2019 was a revolutionary year for Mahaney. He joined one of the most storied race teams in the history of dirt modified racing in the Northeast: The iconic yellow George and Julie Huttig-owned Adirondack Auto no. 35. 

NAPA Super DIRT Week fans will immediately recognize the yellow paint scheme as it has been entered in the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 for many years with top drivers behind the wheel such as Mike Perrotte, Wayne Jelly, and Frank Cozze. 

Perrotte was the Huttig’s first driver and he brought the No. 35 to the team in 1985. It’s been emblazoned on the Huttig machine ever since. 

Traditionally, outside of NAPA Super DIRT Week, the Huttigs fielded a DIRTcar 358 Modified rather than a Big Blocks. But with Mahaney on board, the Adirondak Auto team enters a new era. 

As a full-time driver, any lull in action is difficult, especially one as extended as we are experiencing in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This whole thing has everyone nervous because we just don’t know what to expect,” said Mahaney. “It would be nice to get out there but the next best thing has been iRacing.” The only difference is that the dirt is digital and the cars are virtual but the competition has been incredibly fun for fans and competitors alike.

Mahaney has been competing in the World of Outlaws iRacing Invitationals against some of the best drivers across the country and even the world. His sponsors have been exposed to many thousands of people on FOX Sports, CBS Sports, and DIRTvision making the friendly competition well worth the time for a full-time racer who depends on sponsors. 

“We have been able to put on a show and advertise our sponsors where if we can’t get on the track this is the next best thing to keep their names out there and show them off a bit in a positive way,” said Mahaney. “There’s a lot of negativity out there and this was positive we can do.”

Since day one of the shutdown, the World of Outlaws and DIRTcar Racing have been working diligently to create racing entertainment for the present while we prepare for the “Return to Racing” and reaction to the iRacing shows has been tremendous. 

When it comes to the racing there are adjustments for real-life drivers to make. 

“The simulator has limitations. You don’t get a “seat of your pants” feeling from the race car of course but it works on your hand-eye coordination and you’re working on your audio coordination,” he noted. “The track changes. You have to move around to find the right groove. You gotta do trial and error with setups. It’s not necessarily the exact changes that we make in real life but you do have to try something to see if the car got faster. You get into that rhythm of what you do in real life.”

Mahaney has been paired against some of the best World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car drivers plus stars from NASCAR like Joey Logano, Will Byron, and even Formula 1 and IndyCar star Juan Pablo Montoya. 

“The best part of iRacing is that it doesn’t matter where you are, you can race against people from across the world. We are a Northeast division so it’s rare for us to run into drivers from California or Texas,” Mahaney said. “It’s cool not only because you can race with each other but you get to talk to each other too. We’re on the radio chatting it up and people are going a little bit of trash talking. Instead of fighting in the pits they just say what they want to say and it’s over.” 

Of course, sitting behind the wheel of a simulator in your basement or race shop mostly eliminates the risk factor of making a gutsy slider. Mahaney likens the racing to, “having 25 Jac Haudenchild’s out there going as hard as they can go every lap and not giving an inch. And why not? You don’t have a whole lot to risk.”

Of course, there’s no substitute for the smell of VP Racing Fuel, the heat of the Big Block’s exhaust, and the sound of a cheering crowd.

Race fans can catch Mahaney out on the Super DIRTcar Series trail when the tour starts up again. Additionally, the Adirondack Auto team will also be on the hunt for valuable Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship points at Albany-Saratoga Speedway and, new for 2020, Orange County Fair Speedway. 

Now in the second year of the DIRTcar Big Block Modified program, Mahaney and team are ready to rock. 

“We were going to be more prepared than ever before the pandemic but now all we have is time,” said Mahaney. “Without being able to race or test, we’ve learned more about what to work on in the shop. But we won’t know what to do with the cars until we run them.”

Between the Super DIRTcar Series, Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly racing at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Orange County Fair Speedway, plus select races at Utica-Rome Speedway, the team has to keep up a strict maintenance schedule rotating equipment in and out. 

On some weeks the Adirondack Auto machine will can potentially race four DIRTcar events. The common rulebook makes that possible. “Going from DIRTcar track to DIRTcar track we know we can run our Hoosier Racing Tires and Big Block,” said Mahaney. 

Mahaney is excited to start racing at Orange County. 

“There’s a big attraction to running Orange County. There’s a really good weekly purse and a great point fund. DIRTcar sanctioning means we know 100 percent what we are getting into for rules,” he noted. “There’s a strict rulebook and with Brett Hearn running it, I think knowing him as a racer and a professional, he’ll keep to the rulebook. You know what you expect.”

Needless to say when the Return of Racing comes to the Northeast, Mike Mahaney and his team will be ready. Of course they could not do it all without the support of their sponsors Adirondak Auto, Huttig Nissan, Marcella’s Appliances, Bosch, and Darcy Construction. 

Get connected to Mike Mahaney Racing. Check out his official website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Be sure to come out to the Albany-Saratoga Speedway Fridays, Orange County Fair Speedway Saturdays, and all along the Super DIRTcar Series tour.

PIT STOP: The View from Central New York

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. 

Billy Whittaker Cars 200 at Oswego Speedway, 2018 – Chris Owens photo

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

The Legends

Wayne Reutimann charges down the backstretch of The Moody Mile, 1973 – Courtesy of the NAPA Super DIRT Week Program

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.

Chuck Ciprich all smiles at NAPA Super DIRT Week – Courtesy of the NAPA Super DIRT Week Program

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. 

Kenny Brightbill in Victory Lane at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, 1979 – Courtesy of the NAPA Super DIRT Week Program

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.

Brett Hearn and Billy Pauch talk shop, 1986 – Courtesy of the NAPA Super DIRT Week Program

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.

Danny Johnson, 2019 – Pete MacDonald photo

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.

Billy Decker triumphant, 2001 – Courtesy of the NAPA Super DIRT Week Program

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.

Alan Johnson in chase-mode in the Last Chance Showdown at NAPA Super DIRT Week before going on to win the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 from last, 1989 – Courtesy of the NAPA Super DIRT Week Program

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.

Matt Sheppard, 2019 – Pete MacDonald photo

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.

Mat Williamson, DIRTcar Nationals, 2020 – Joe Grabianowski photo

Others who will help maintain the high caliber of racing on the Series include Larry Wight and Erick Rudolph.

Erick Rudolph, DIRTcar Nationals, 2020 – Terry Page photo

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. 

Peter Britten, Airborne Speedway, 2019 – Joe Grabianowski photo

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.

Jimmy Phelps on the gas at Autodrome Drummond, 2019 – Joe Grabianowski photo

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.

Demetrios Drellos, Autodrome Granby, 2019 – Joe Grabianowski photo

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.

Jack Lehner, Weedsport Speedway, 2019 – Joe Grabianowski photo

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.

Chris Hile, Eldora Speedway, 2019 – Mike Mallet Photo

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.

Corey Wheeler and Todd Root race door-to-door at Oswego Speedway, 2019 – George Smith

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.

Orange County Fair Speedway: DIRTcar Track Spotlight

MIDDLETOWN, NY – In 2020 DIRTcar welcomes back the legendary Orange County Fair Speedway to the fold as the Big Block Modifieds entered the Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship in addition to two Super DIRTcar Series tour stops. 

Director of Motorsports and eight-time Super DIRTcar Series Champion Brett The Jet Hearn also ushered in the return of the Eastern States 200 as a points-paying Super DIRTcar Series race for 2020. 

Last year, the Middletown, NY landmark celebrated its centennial in grand fashion. Along with DIRTcar, Orange County Fair Speedway is well-situated to excel in providing professional, high-speed racing action with many of the best Big Block Modified drivers in the country each and every week. 

Orange County has been running weekly racing since 1950 and has been in operation since 1919. The .625 of a mile Orange County Fair Speedway is the site of one of the most prestigious Big Block Modified races in the world, Eastern States 200. 

This year, the Eastern States 200 is the final points-paying race before the Super DIRTcar Series heads to The Dirt Track at Charlotte for the Can-Am World Finals. It’s also the only other 200-lap Big Block Modified race along with the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 on the schedule. 

The Super DIRTcar Series is also slated to appear during the annual Orange County Fair, New York State’s second-largest Fair on Tuesday, July 28. Both stops on the series trail will boast five-digit to win figures. Plus, Orange County boasts a massive $102,000 point fund in addition to the DIRTcar Hoosier Tire Weekly Championship point fund.

Another highlight on the schedule falls on Sunday, August 2 when the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars return to Middletown.

Some of the greatest legends dirt modified racing called the famous fairgrounds oval at Middletown home. Drivers like Frankie Schneider, Buzzie Reutimann, Will Cagle, Gary Balough, Jimmy Horton, and of course Brett Hearn. But others made their mark too like Rick Eurich, Jeff Heotzler, Stewart Friesen, The Doctor Danny Johnson, and dozens more. 

Brett Hearn took the 2019 track championship against a stout field including Tommy Meier, Mike Gular, Horton, Jerry Higbie, Anthony Perrego, and more. This year the field is even more competitive: Matt Sheppard and Mike Mahaney will join the fray on Saturday nights. 

Recent renovations to the grandstands, fencing, pit area, restrooms, and a new, racy track surface that compliments the Hoosier Racing Tire have been key to the rejuvenation of the century-old race track attracting new fans, racers, and sponsors. Chris Larsen and his Halmar International have been the key to the historic track’s future.  

Don’t make your trip to Middletown a day trip. The Middletown population is just under 30,000, which finds many activities for visitors from shopping malls, theaters, and parks. Resorts World Catskills Casino is just a short drive away and of course, New York City is a little over an hour away. 

Bookmark the Orange County Fair Speedway website and follow them on Twitter and Facebook

Tentative 2020 Orange County Fair Speedway Schedule

Saturday, May 16 – Military Appreciation Night DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds, Sportsman, Street Stocks, Rookie Sportsman

Saturday, May 30 – Saturday Night Racing – DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds, Small Block Modifieds, Sportsman, Street Stocks

Saturday, June 6 – Nostalgia Night – Jimmy Horton Tribute – DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds, Sportsman 

Saturday, June 13 – Orange Crush – The Sprint Smashtacular – Monster Trucks

Saturday, June 20 – Graduation Night – Rookie Championship, DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds, Sportsman, Street Stocks, Rookie Sportsman

Saturday, June 27 – Construction Night – DIRTcar Big Block Modified, Small Block Modifieds, Sportsman, Street Stock 

Thursday, July 2 – Modified Twin 50s – USAC – DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds, USAC Sprint Cars

Saturday, July 11 – Bike Night – DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds, Small Block Modifieds, Sportsman, Street Stocks

Saturday, July 18 – First Responders Night – DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds, Small Block Modifieds, Street Stocks

Tuesday, July 28 – Battle of the Midway – Super DIRTcar Series, Sportsman

Sunday, August 2 – World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars, Small Block Modifieds

Saturday, August 8 – Marky Traverse Street Stock Memorial – Sportsman, Street Stock 

Saturday, August 15 – King of the Catskills Qualifier, DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds, Sportsman, Street Stocks

Wednesday, August 19 – The 101 Summer Championship, DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds, Sportsman

Saturday, August 22 – Saturday Night Racing – Small Block Modifieds, Sportsman, Street Stock, Vintage Modifieds

Saturday, August 29 – Champions Night – DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds, Small Block Modifieds, Sportsman, Street Stocks 

Saturday, September 12 – Eve of Destruction – Demo Derby

Saturday, October 17 – Open Eastern States practice

Friday, October 23 – STSS

Saturday, October 24 – Eastern States 100 – Small Block Modifieds

Sunday, October 25 – Eastern States 200 – Super DIRTcar Series

Mike Mahaney Teams with Huttig for Super DIRTcar Series Assault

18 MAHANEY ANNOUNCEMENT

Mahaney and Huttig Team Up for 2019

Mandee Pauch Relations – December 13, 2018 –It wasn’t too long ago when Mike Mahaney announced he was a free agent for the 2019 season. It didn’t take long after that for the dynamic duo out of Elizabethtown, NY, George and Julie Huttig, to come in and sweep him up.

“When I first met Mike a few years ago we immediately had a connection,” said Julie Huttig. “It was interesting when we reconnected on the phone a little while ago, for us and for him, it all kind of came together. I’ve watched him and followed him. There’s something about him that I have a ton of respect for.”

Read moreMike Mahaney Teams with Huttig for Super DIRTcar Series Assault

Super DIRTcar Series Kicks Off World Finals with Qualifying

HEAT POST

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.

Read moreSuper DIRTcar Series Kicks Off World Finals with Qualifying