INFLUX OF NEW RACERS FROM VARIOUS BACKGROUNDS CONTINUE TO ADD DEPTH TO SWEENEY RUSH RACING SERIES' DIVISIONS
By Doug Kennedy
April 27, 2017
(Pulaski, PA)...Since the introduction of the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Racing Series powered by Pace Performance in 2013, the number of tracks and new drivers becoming part of the Series continues to grow by leaps and bounds. With the 2017 season slowly getting underway throughout the Series' various classes, numerous new racers have joined the RUSH program.
Some of the new drivers with many featured below include Greg Beach, Devin Brannon, C.J. Irons, D.J. Krug, Derek Magee, J.J. Mazur, Erin Peters, David Pangrazio, Carl Shetler, Matt Sipes, Josh Snyder, Dillan Stake, David Stolzenberg, Nick Mohawk, Clayton and Mike Tarabori, Chase Lambert, Brian Tuche, David Kalb, Mark Willman, Brian Sadler, Pat Adams, and Shayne Izzo.
Devin Brannon is the son of Allen Brannon, who was a successful Super Late Model racer throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Allen won RUSH’s richest event ever, when he took the checkered for the Touring event at Winchester Speedway in 2015, worth a cool $6,000. Now, Allen monitors his son, Devin, and continues to do some RUSH racing, while his son will be eligible for the “Futures Cup”. In fact, Allen already has a pair of Sweeney Weekly Series wins at Winchester this season.
“I think it’s a good thing for the future drivers with the weekly series so that they have something other to run for besides the track championship,” said the 14-year-old Devin.
During his racing career, Allen has won seven track championships between Winchester and Potomac and over 100 career feature wins. The younger Brannon just started racing his Crate Late Model last July and already has two top sevens this year at Winchester. “I think I might be able to get my first win this year,” said Devin.
This is Greg Beach’s first full year with RUSH; however he has 30 years of racing experience. During that span he has raced Go-Karts, E-Mods, Stock Cars, Steel-Block Late Models, and Super Late Models. Beach also does a lot of travelling even though Lernerville is the closest race track to his Chicora, Pa. home.
For 2017, Beach is going to run both the RUSH Touring Series and compete for Weekly Series points. “I like it,” said Beach, who has memberships for both. “I’ve run open late models and engines can get pretty costly. With the crates, the engines are more affordable and I can make the same amount of money with the crates as I can with the Super Lates.”
The goal for the 40-year-old Beach is be consistent, be in the top five, and win some races. He’s already won this year at Path Valley in the first week of April. “That’s why I chose the Series because it seemed to be the best economical way for me to run a Late Model,” said Beach.
Eighteen year old David Pangrazio of Elba, NY will be campaigning a RUSH Late Model for 2017 and compete for Sweeney Weekly Series points. He plans on racing at Genesee on Saturday nights and picking up some races at Outlaw, and Humberstone. Prior to this season, Pangrazio raced 4-Cylinders for four years at Genesee and Freedom and some E-Mod races for a year at Eriez and Sharon Speedways. He picked up his very first E-Mod feature win last year at Eriez.
David and his grandfather, Bernie, took care of prepping Genesee Speedway last year and it was grandpa who wanted David to race somewhere closer to home on a consistent basis. “I think it (RUSH) is a really good program,” said Pangrazio. “It has guidelines for rules, but the main thing is that I really wanted to be closer to home. I’m really looking forward to the RUSH Late Model this year.” He, his grandpa, and his dad, Scott, will provide the financial support for the race team.
J.J. Mazur of Batavia, NY competed in the RUSH Weekly Series at Genesee last year, but plans on running his the full Touring Series for 2017. “RUSH puts everybody on the same playing field with the rules. I appreciate what they are doing and it certainly has made it affordable for me again. The average guy can now compete," explained Mazur.
Union City, Pennsylvania’s Matt Sipes has one of the best mentors in the business- David Scott- a well respected and successful Late Model and Modified driver. Sipes, who is 33, comes from Motocross and is spending his first year in a RUSH Late Model. “David will help me with the set-ups and basically mentor me,” said Sipes.
He plans on running for Sweeney Weekly Series points at Stateline Speedway for 2017. “It seems like they have their act together,” said Sipes of the RUSH Series. “Being a RUSH member, you get bonuses at the end of the year and still can run your home track” As far as running a Late Model, Sipes said, “I’m looking forward to it because it will be something with a roll cage.”
Another first year competitor is 42-year-old, Josh Snyder, who began his racing career in a Pro Stock in 2016 at the age of 41, hence his number 41 race car. “I don’t know why I started so late, “said Josh. “I always wanted to try it and last year was my first opportunity.” And for his first year, Snyder didn’t do too poorly as he won three features and finished third in points at Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex.
His plans for this year are to run for points at Roaring Knob in a RUSH Late Model and perhaps a few Touring races. His first experience came on April 15 when he started the feature at the rear of the field and finished sixth. Ironically, his daughter’s fiancé, Robert Cossell IV, finished fourth in the race and his other daughter’s boyfriend, Braeden Dillinger, finished third! “That should make for some interesting racing this year,” laughed Josh. “At least we didn’t finish last.”
“Both of them have been a great help to me and Cossell is actually one of my sponsors.”
What he likes about the RUSH Series so far is the teching process. “Vicki (Emig) and Travis (Harry) were both there last night and that’s good,” said Snyder.
David Stolzenberg of St. Catharines, Ontario has been racing Street Stocks since he was 15. Twenty-five years later, he will be racing a RUSH Late Model for the first time in his racing career. He will compete this year for weekly points at Humberstone and make a few appearances at Genesee and the Tour event at Merrittville.
One of the main reasons for his move to the RUSH Late Model was the consistent rules package. “The Street Stock division has got so far out of hand because each track has its own rules so it’s hard to go to different tracks and be competitive because of those different rules,” said Stolzenberg. “With this class, you have a set of Series rules that you have to follow. It’s professionally run and I’m looking forward to joining the Series. I’m also hoping the class will grow here in Ontario and our region. It’s one of the reasons we picked this car up to be an inspiration to get other drivers to go out and become a weekly competitor.”
Twenty-five year old Dillan Stake of Three Springs, Pa. has been racing since he was eight. He began in Motocross, then Quarter Midgets, Cyclone Late Models, Limited Lates, and now the RUSH Late Model. Stake has two cars, a Limited Late Model and a RUSH Crate Late Model. He plans on running the RUSH Weekly Series at Path Valley and will do the Mason Dixon Shootout Series in his Limited Late. He also plans on running a few races at Winchester.
“I think it’s really good what they have going on,” said Stake of the RUSH Series. “I think it’s the future of racing. There’s a lot of good competition and everyone seems to be on top of their game and in good and equal equipment. I hope we can compete. At least, that’s our plan.”
Derek Magee of Georgetown, DE has been racing a BMX bike since he was three. At seven he moved to a Go-Kart and by 10 he was in a Mod Lite. When he was 14, Magee started racing a Crate Late Model at Delaware International Speedway, something he has been doing ever since.
Since RUSH sanctioned Delaware for the first time ever, Magee will run for weekly points. He also plans on doing some races alternating at Delmar and Georgetown on Thursdays, Potomac on Fridays, and Winchester on Saturdays. Now 21, Magee is a student at Milligan College where is also a pitcher on the school’s baseball team. His season will start in early May and end the second week of August.
As for RUSH, Magee says that he’s excited to see what it brings. “It’s a new opportunity for me to race against better competition. I grew up racing strictly around Delaware and with the same people I started with. I’m excited to get out there with new and better competition and hope it can make me a better driver.”
Twenty-nine year old Carl Shetler of Oakfield, NY, has been racing Street Stocks, a 360 Late Model, and finally a RUSH Crate Late Model for the last 10 years. “It’s been an on and off type of thing,” said Shetler. For 2017, Shetler intends to race at Genesee Speedway and do a few hit and miss Touring races.
As for RUSH, Shetler said that he knows a few drivers who have been doing it for the last few years and they say things have been good. “Nobody has any complaints,” said Shetler. “The competition is definitely tough from what I’ve seen. You certainly have to be on your “A” game.”
C.J. (Carl Jay) Irons of Bradford, Pa. will be competing in the RUSH Late Model division for 2017. Like many other drivers, the 20-year-old Irons began his racing career in a Go-Kart. For the last six years, he competed in a Mini Stock Cavalier Car.
His plans for this season are to run events at McKean and also take in some races at Stateline and Bradford Speedways. “I’m excited to do it,” said Irons of his move to the Late Model. “Moving up, I want to broaden my horizon going from a front wheel to a rear wheel drive and tripling my horsepower.”
He also receives help from his dad, Gerald as well as his dad’s friend Jason Dupont. who helped with the chassis and parts, Jason Thomas, who does the fabricating, and Jason Okerlund, who helps with the set-ups and built the car’s body.
“I can’t wait to start travelling with RUSH,” said Irons. “My eventual goal is to do the travelling series if I can financially afford it.”
Erin Peters of Lancaster, NY is a third generation racer. His grandfather, George, raced at old Olean Speedway, while his dad, Ed raced Late Models at Bradford and McKean before moving onto NASCAR and working for the Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison race teams. His uncle, Junior Peters competed in the RUSH Late Model Series for several years before selling his car last year.
“It’s a family thing and a dream come true to be back in big car racing,” said Erin. Peters began his racing career in 2005 driving a Street Stock before moving to a Go-Kart. He was running a Limited All-Star Series (a super late model of dirt karts) and travelling all over New York and Pennsylvania. This past winter, Erin decided to sell the kart and purchase a Crate Late Model. He’ll get support on the car’s set-up from veteran racer, Ed Carley.
“He built my Street Stock when I won a lot of races in 2006,” said Peters. Carley’s advise to Erin is to learn how to drive the Late Model and once he gets the set-up right, he should have no problem moving to the front and winning races.
Peters plans to run for points in the Sweeney Weekly Series at McKean and also take in some events at Stateline, Bradford, and Genesee. As for now, there will no touring events. “I want to get a handle on this program and figure it out before we start hauling all over the country,” said Peters. “It’s been 10 years since I’ve been in a big car. I’m excited and ready to rock and roll. I’ve been around racing for quite a while and it’s nice to have a series (RUSH) that has controls over every aspect of it. I think it is not only controlled properly, but spot on.”
Thirty-year-old, Shayne Izzo of New Wilmington, Pa., has been racing for a little more than 10 years in various Modified classes. This year he plans on running the full RUSH Sportsman Mod Series. “I’m going to try and make all the races,” said Izzo.
As far as the Series, Izzo said, “I saw this opportunity with the class and I thought this might be the best way to go. It’s definitely a great step to where it has brought the economics down. I think it’s the right step to take care of the local low budget racers.” Izzo also likes the contingencies that the Series provides. He did compete in two races last year; one at Sharon and one at Lernerville.
David Kalb, Jr. of Aurora, Ohio will be driving a Sportsman Mod that his father, David, Sr. owns. David, Jr., who is 15, has been racing Go-Karts since he was five and will now be in a full size car for the first time.
During his Karting days, David, Jr. won his first Kid Kart race at the age of five. He was a three-time Sportsmanship Award winner, a two-time CKRA Grand Prix champion, a three-time WKA Gold Cup National Champion, and a two-time Class Champion at Pittsburgh International Raceway. In 2013, he won 31 WKA national races.
This year he plans on racing both the Weekly and Touring Series throughout the region. In addition, Kalb will be chasing after the "Futures Cup" Championship. “We’re anxious to meet everybody and get started,” said Kalb, Sr. “It’s been great so far.”
“I think it’s a great series,” said Kalb, Jr. “It seems like it’s run very well and they have a lot of good people. I’m really looking forward to the season.”
Clayton and Mike Tarabori will be sharing the driving duties in their RUSH Pro Mod for 2017. Clayton is 18 years old, while his father, Mike, is 47. “We both own the car, but I will probably race it the most times,” said Clayton. “Last year I ran a Street Stock for a couple of races, but this is my first year in a big car.”
The Taraboris live in Coudersport, Pa. and will race mostly at Old Bradford Speedway on Sunday nights. As for the RUSH Series, Clayton said, “I think it’s a good opportunity to keep everyone on the same playing field.”
“It’s a great learning experience especially when you’re just starting off,” said Mike, who will be running a Pro Mod for his first time ever. “It keeps the spending on a car at a minimum instead of spending what we did on the Street Stock. I hope the Pro Mods take off and they can get some good car counts.”
Even though the Taraboris have owned a racecar for three years, last year was the first year that they raced it with Scott Tubbs as their driver. Mike’s cousin, Darren, also races an E-Mod and has been trying to get Darren to join the RUSH Series.
Chase Lambert will be competing at Lernerville in the RUSH Pro Stocks driving his grandfather, Bob Lambert’s car. Chase is also the nephew of, Butch Lambert, who has a successful career in Stocks, RUSH Late Models, E-Mods, and Econo Mods, and is a former Lernerville Stock champion. Chase’s dad, Robert McCall, and his two cousins, Jimmy and Jason Fosnaught, also raced. So there is a lot of help that the 15-year-old Chase can rely upon.
“I remember going to Sharon and Lernerville and watching my uncle win races and championships,” said Chase.
This is actually Chase’s first year in a race car. Besides his car, his grandpa, Bob and partner Chuck Neely, will also field a car for Brandon Wearing. Chase’s car was bought from Ron Spangler last August.
“It’s going to be a fun learning process, “said Chase. “I’m the next Lambert generation driver. I knew my uncle was part of the Crate deal, and without the Crate deal, I don’t know if I would be in a race car at this point. I really like the separate points deal and the giveaways to help the drivers out during the season. Overall, it’s (RUSH) just a good deal.”
Besides the help he will receive from his uncle and his grandpa, Chase will also receive support from Wearing, his two cousins, and some buddies from Mars High School. “We’ve all learned a lot this off season and we’re all enjoying it so far,” said Chase. “My pap would never send me out in unsafe equipment. We’ve been in the stock car business for quite some time and thought this would be the easiest thing for me to get into.”
Lambert would also like to give thanks to Bill Thomas Excavating who is his main sponsor and responsible for providing Chase’s safety equipment. In his first ever race on April 21 at Lernerville, Lambert finished 17th.
Brian Tuche of Cheswick, Pa,, owns the RUSH Pro Stock that his 18-year-old son, Dale, will be driving at Lernerville this season. Dale has been racing for three and a half years at Pittsburgh competing with the Young Guns and then the Hobby Stocks.
He’s not really sure yet about the RUSH Series but believes it will be competitive. “Everyone will have the same motor so that will make it competitive,” said Tuche. “I’m learning about the Series as well.” Tuche finished 18th on opening night at Lernerville in his first RUSH Pro Stock race.
RUSH Late Model marketing partners include Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC, Pace Performance, Hoosier Tire, Bilstein Shocks, Sunoco Race Fuels, Bazell Race Fuels, Insinger Performance, MSD Performance, Holley Performance Products, Earl's Performance Plumbing, Quick Fuel Technology, FK Rod Ends, Maxima Racing Oil, Schoenfeld Headers, Jones Racing Products, Alternative Power Sources, Precise Racing Products, ARbodies, TBM Brakes, K&N Filters, Lincoln Electric, Velocita-USA, Classic Ink USA, Rocket Chassis, Landrum Performance Spring, CrateInsider.com, RockAuto.com, and Valley Fashions.
RUSH Sportsman Modified marketing partners include Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC, Pace Performance, Hoosier Tire, Bilstein Shocks, Sunoco Race Fuels, Bazell Race Fuels, Insinger Performance, MSD Performance, Holley Performance Products, Earl's Performance Plumbing, Quick Fuel Technology, FK Rod Ends, Maxima Racing Oil, Sherwood Wheels, Schoenfeld Headers, Jones Racing Products, Alternative Power Sources, Precise Racing Products, TBM Brakes, K&N Filters, Lincoln Electric, Velocita-USA, Classic Ink USA, CrateInsider.com, RockAuto.com, and Valley Fashions.
RUSH Sportsman Modified marketing partners include Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC, Pace Performance, Hoosier Tire, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Sunoco Race Fuels, Bazell Race Fuels, Insinger Performance, MSD Performance, Holley Performance Products, Earl's Performance Plumbing, Quick Fuel Technology, FK Rod Ends, Maxima Racing Oil, Sherwood Racing Wheels, Schoenfeld Headers, Jones Racing Products, Alternative Power Sources, Precise Racing Products, TBM Brakes, K&N Filters, Lincoln Electric, Velocita-USA, Classic Ink USA, CrateInsider.com, RockAuto.com, and Valley Fashions.
RUSH Pro Mod and Pro Stock marketing partners include Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC, Pace Performance, Hoosier Tire, Bilstein Shocks, Sunoco Race Fuels, Bazell Race Fuels, Insinger Performance, MSD Performance, Holley Performance Products, Earl's Performance Plumbing, Quick Fuel Technology, FK Rod Ends, Maxima Racing Oil, Schoenfeld Headers, Jones Racing Products, Precise Racing Products, TBM Brakes, K&N Filters, Lincoln Electric, Velocita-USA, Classic Ink USA, CrateInsider.com, RockAuto.com, and Valley Fashions.
E-mail can be sent to the RUSH Racing Series at [email protected] and snail mail to 4368 Route 422, Pulaski, PA 16143. Office phone is 724-964-9300 and fax is 724-964-0604. The RUSH Racing Series website is www.rushracingseries.com. Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rushlatemodels and follow us on Twitter @RUSHLM.