By Doug Kennedy


May 19, 2016             FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Pulaski, PA)…
As the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Series powered by Pace Performance continues to grow, two of the weekly-sanctioned speedways that have played an important part in the growth is Maryland’s Potomac Speedway and Virginia’s Winchester Speedway.  Both became RUSH-sanctioned in 2014 after having started a Crate Late Model division in 2013 on their own.  These two tracks are located at the southern most end of the RUSH region. 



Potomac and Winchester have been excellent examples of what a sanction can bring to a speedway as opposed to running the class unsanctioned.  Series directors Vicki Emig and Mike Leone work on a daily basis to bring a their promoters and racers a full service, worry-free program that is surrounded by numerous valuable championship cash and contingency programs, but most importantly their strong technical and sealing department that recently received national recognition in Dirt Late Model Magazine. (May 2016)  According to Vicki, the Series teching efforts is their heart, the rest as they say, is just icing on the cake!,”  


The reality of the situation is that many unsanctioned speedways and some sanctions have no legitimate rebuilder system, records to guarantee the integrity of the engines if they have been rebuilt or repaired, or a penalty system that will address issues if they would occur.  To put it bluntly most of these are riding on the backs of legitimate sanctions in hopes that no serious issues will occur.    


With the teching aspect, RUSH helps educate their individual tracks’ tech personal and has its team of tech personnel who travel thousands of miles throughout the season to ensure everyone is competing on a level playing field.  This is a service that is provided at no additional charge to the speedways.


Over the years, Travis Harry, RUSH Competition Director, has discovered  numerous engines in pre-race tech situations that were not properly sealed.  More often than not when the situation is discussed with the racer it is discovered that they had purchased a used engine from a racer that has been competing at a non-sanctioned speedway.  Says Emig about these situations, "Telling a racer he will not be permitted to race because his engine is not properly sealed is hands down the hardest thing I have to do, it's horrible.  We always recommend before purchasing a used engine to contact Travis or one of our authorized rebuilders to confirm its legality."


Unsanctioned crate racing can get out of hand with regards to the teching and the inability of consistent enforcement of the rules and regulations.  These drawbacks eventually affect the participation and morale of the racers, as they want to believe they are competing on a level playing field, which is has always been the true intent of crate engine racing.  Strong sanctioning bodies have the best chance of providing the speedways with healthy car counts and great racing. 


In the case of both Potomac and Winchester, car counts have been on the rise ever since both tracks joined up as RUSH crate racing sanctioned racetracks.  Since 2014, average car counts at Potomac have risen from 13 to 16 to 18, while Winchester has experienced a three-year growth in average car count from 19 to 24 to 27.  Both tracks were getting less than 10 cars in 2013 on their own.   


When Emig initially heard that the speedways were going to start a Crate Late Model division she spoke to General Manager Denise Hollidge about the possibility of them joining RUSH, but at that time they had decided to start the class unsanctioned.


RUSH finally got the break they needed when the Touring Series held a first ever event at Maryland’s Hagerstown Speedway.  The event was run in conjunction with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.  Bringing Crate Late Models under the RUSH banner to the historic Hagerstown Speedway for the very first time in the tracks storied history was a major breakthrough for the Series.  A total of 36 drivers from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Canada competed. 


Veteran driver Rick Singleton went into the record books as the winner of the 30-lap Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC Touring Series event at Hagerstown.  He took the lead on lap 13 and never looked back.  All 24 starters finished the feature and there were no cautions either. 


Following his $2,500 win, Singleton said, “This feels good- I love this crate racing.  I don’t have the kind of money to run Lucas Oil, but this is good racing for the poor guy.  It’s nice to show up at Hagerstown and for once in my life have the same equipment that everyone else does.”


Ironically, Greg Gunter, the promoter for both Potomac and Winchester, was in the stands that night and after witnessing the event told track manage Hollidge to contact Emig the next day to see if he could have RUSH sanction both of his tracks. On November 2, 2013, it was announced that both Potomac and Winchester Speedways committed to a three-year deal to have their Crate Late Model Division sanctioned under the RUSH banner beginning in 2014.  From that point on, the RUSH Late Models have been part of Potomac and Winchester’s programs on Friday and Saturday nights respectively. 


"We'll never be able to thank Greg and Denise enough for believing in RUSH and giving us the opportunity to grow our Series throughout the Mid-Atlantic region," stated Emig.  "It's been a wonderful relationship, not only are we business partners so to say, we've become great friends.  Because of their commitment to RUSH over the past three years, Crate Late Model racing has flourished in this region."


Two veteran drivers who have been competing in crate racing at both tracks are a pair of 53 year olds- Tim Booth and John Imler.  Imler went on to become the first crate division champion at Potomac in 2014.   


Booth began racing crates in 2009 after starting his career way back in 1981.  When he first started racing the crates, he was competing on a limited schedule at Potomac and Delaware International Speedway. 


“If it wasn’t for crate racing, I would be a spectator,” said Booth.  The Edgewater, Maryland resident believes everything is headed in the right direction with the RUSH Series, but was skeptical at first with some of the changes that were instituted prior to the 2016 racing season.


“I wasn’t for the fuel thing at first, but I am now because I’m saving money.  By season’s end, the money I save on fuel will allow me to buy two or three new racing tires.” 


Booth, who works for J. Kenn Construction plans on racing at both Potomac and Winchester and a few events at Path Valley Speedway in Spring Run, Pennsylvania.  To be able to race on Friday nights at Potomac, he gets off work by 3PM and already has his car loaded up into his trailer by Thursday night. Saturday is one of his days off, so he doesn’t have to worry about making the show at Winchester. 


Prior to getting into crate racing, Booth ran a Super Late Model for a number of years.  One of the guys who helped him with his Late Model program for a five-year period was fellow driver, John Imler, who didn’t begin his racing career until 2003.  At the age of 40, he started racing a Hobby Stock.


Three years later, Imler ventured into his first Crate Late Model and raced at both Potomac and Winchester.  This was years before either track became sanctioned which caused Imler to believe that there would be problems with the rules and regulations.  Once RUSH became involved as the sanctioning body, Imler could see the difference, particularly with the one element he feels is extremely important- teching.   


“With RUSH, the tech people can show up at any time and I like that,” said Imler. “It keeps everyone honest.  I love it (RUSH) because it’s the only way I can drive a Late Model,” said Imler, who hails from Tracys Landing, Maryland. “I actually spent more money on the Hobby Stock than I do with my crate.”  


When he’s not racing, Imler is an electrical contractor for his own company, J&L Electric.  His racing plans for 2016 include running Potomac full-time and making visits to both Winchester and Path Valley Speedways.  He was also very happy to finally win his first ever Crate Late Model feature at Potomac Speedway on April 15, 2016. 


Besides these two veteran racers, there are a number of newcomers to the RUSH crate series at both tracks as well.  Three of those newcomers to the crate series are Ryan Clement, Cory Almond, and Mike Franklin.  Franklin sold his Street Stock equipment following the 2015 season and is now a full-time Late Model racer.  Clement also sold his hobby stock equipment after the 2015 season and has also gone full-time with the crate division.


Sixteen-year-old Clement of Mechanicsville, Maryland loves the Series.  “I think it’s one of the greatest classes that I have ever run,” said Clement.  “I think the teching is amazing and makes everyone equal.  I kind of wish I got in this Series earlier.” 


Playing it fairly is something that the Clement family has done for Ryan since he began racing go-karts at the age of six.  “He won a huge race called the East Coast Turkey Trot,” said his dad, Russell.  “After the race they tore down the cars and everyone was found illegal except for Ryan’s.  He has never let me step out of line with anything illegal on his racecars.”


After his go-kart days, Ryan raced a U-Car and then a Hobby Stock for two seasons.  Following a win in that division, Russell was approached by the Gunter’s Honey group.  “They said that Ryan needed to get into a Late Model so I bought him a Late Model and that’s been it,” said Russell.  “Even though it’s been scary, it’s like he’s been in one for years and he’s really doing well.  He’s been following the RUSH Series for a long time with the rules and traveling.”


“I love the Series,” added Russell.  “It puts everything in perspective and you don’t have to worry about getting beat by people doing the wrong things.  I just think this is the series you want to be in.”


Ryan races at his Potomac home track every week and will race Winchester every other week. 


Franklin, who is 45 years old, likes the age variance that exists in the RUSH Series.  “We have drivers in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, and kids in their teens,” said the Winchester, Virginia resident.  “Everyone respects everyone else.  It’s nice to pull into a track and know that you’re pretty much guaranteed a field with lots of cars every week.”  


Franklin is racing for the RUSH weekly points at both Winchester and Potomac.  He is driving for veteran driver, Harry Sipe, who is taking a good portion of this season to be an owner and not a driver.  Franklin has his own crate but it’s not put back together as of yet.  Sipe has indicated that sometime this year he will buy another Crate Late Model and have Franklin drive that one while Harry gets into the older one.  “It looks like I’ll be driving for him for a while.” 


After driving a Street Stock for a number of years, Franklin got his first taste of a Crate Late Model at the end of the 2015 season, courtesy of Sipe, and he liked it.  “I really like them a lot because it’s affordable motor wise.  The whole crate deal is nice so you can load up and kind of go anywhere you want to race because of the rules package that RUSH has.”   


Franklin just wrapped up a tremendous weekend where he finished a career best second at Potomac on Friday night (May 13) and backed it up with a fine third place finish at Winchester.  Franklin is also in contention for the $5,000 Bilstein Bandits Championship as he competes on the $135 sealed, spec shocks.


18-year-old Corey Almond is another newcomer to the RUSH Late Models at Potomac.  Almond started his career in the Street Stock division at Potomac before moving up to the Crate Late Models at Virginia tracks closer to home such as Natural Bridge and Virginia Motor Speedway.  Despite being a three-hour drive, Almond will be a regular at Potomac when the RUSH Late Models are on the card.


Potomac Speedway is a 3/8-mile clay oval located in Budds Creek, Maryland.  The track was first opened for racing in 1973 with races being typically held on Friday nights with some Saturday and Sunday racing sprinkled in.  There are seven divisions that are part of the Potomac Speedway schedule:  Super Late Models, Limited Late Models, Street Stocks, Hobby Stocks, U Cars, Strictly Stocks, and the RUSH Crate Late Models. 


The track can hold more than 4,000 spectators in the grandstands, plus an additional 1,000 in the pit area.  It attracts not only drivers from Maryland and Virginia, but also those from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware. 


Greg Gunter is the promoter of Potomac Speedway while Denise Hollidge serves as the track’s general manager.  These two provide the leadership for Winchester Speedway as well. 


Winchester Speedway is known as the “action track” and runs its racing schedule on Saturday nights.  The track, which is located in Winchester, Virginia, and also features seven divisions including Late Models, Limited Late Models, Pure Stocks, 4 Cylinders, Enduros, U Cars, and of course the RUSH Crate Late Models. 


The Virginia-based track began racing in 1936 when Kermit Batt purchased a few acres of land just east of the Winchester Airport and aptly named the track Airport Speedway.   By 1937, Winchester was hosting a full season of racing that included Model T and Model A Jalopies, and motorcycles. 


At the time, there were no grandstands, so spectators would come out after Sunday church, park their cars and watch the races without the benefit of any guardrails.  Batt took on a partner, Lawrence Lichliter in 1947.  The two made the track into the 3/8’s miles oval that is today.  Twenty seven years later, the wooden grandstands were replaced by the current concrete ones.  Following four more ownership changes that began in 1961, Gunter purchased the facility in 2009.


Denise Hollidge, general manager for both tracks, sees the RUSH Series as extremely beneficial.  “It’s been great for both speedways,” said Hollidge.  Our car counts have grown tremendously since joining up with RUSH.  We tried doing it on our own and we had car counts of 7 to 10, now we are averaging 18 to 25 at both speedways.”


The three-year agreement between RUSH and the two speedways will end at the conclusion of the 2016, but for Hollidge, there’s no question the direction she is headed.  “We will definitely renew with RUSH.  Joining forces with Vicki is 100% the way to go.” 


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, Maxima Racing Oil, Jones Racing Products, Alternative Power Sources, Precise Racing Products, ARbodies, TBM Brakes, K&N Filters, Lincoln Electric, FK Rod Ends, Velocita-USA, Classic Ink USA, Rocket Chassis, Bobby Lake Motorsports High Gear Speed Shop,, B.R.A.K.E.S.,, 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 Like our Facebook page at and follow us on Twitter @RUSHLM.