RoC PAVEMENT SERIES TO OPEN 2016 SEASON
AT MAHONING VALLEY SPEEDWAY
Valley Speedway is proud to announce they will play host to the Race
of Champions (RoC) Tour for their 2016 season opener which is set
for Saturday, April 9.
Mahoning promoter Floyd Santee and RoC head Joe Skotnicki have
recently come to terms to bring the popular pavement Modified Series
to the ľ-mile oval in Lehighton for the first time in 10 years.
ďItís exciting. That term is over utilized but it is. Mahoning is a
terrific track that provides great racing,Ē said Skotnicki.
ďI think itís a great step for asphalt Modified racing as well.
Weíre building on the legacy that Andrew (Harpell) created and we
know what weíve got to do and thatís expand and look at things in a
different light and have races at places like Mahoning. Floyd and
all of the Santeeís have done a terrific job promoting there and
itís great that we could bring things together to put an event on
that has all of the elements to become a must see.Ē
The race will be contested over a 75-lap distance.
The last time the RoC raced at Mahoning Valley was October 21, 2006.
Eric Beers took the 100 lap victory over Kory Rabenold and Billy
Putney. 40 cars filled the pit area with 28 taking the green.
With this being the first race of the season for both Mahoning and
the RoC, it is expected that those numbers will be attainable and
then some as many teams will be anxious to get back onto the track
after a long winter.
Mahoning Valley has a distinct reputation for constant side-by-side
racing and with the RoC Tour coming in and mixing with the regulars,
it has all the makings of what could be an instant classic.
ďItís multiple grooves with a lot of opportunities for racers to
race, but itís also very fast. 10-second laps, so the 75 laps will
go by quickly, but I think fans will be entertained and on the edge
of their seat throughout the event and in the end thatís the goal,Ē
ďPersonally, itís great, Iíve enjoyed Mahoning since the very first
time I stepped foot inside the place. Itís fun, itís family
oriented, itís just a great place filled with Modified racing
history and you canít ask for much more than that.Ē
The RoC has strong roots at Mahoning Valley. Beers, Zane Zeiner and
Tony and Matt Hirschman have all raced and won here and then went on
to score in the crown jewel of pavement Modified racing, the Sunoco
Race of Champions 200.
2015 Mahoning track champion Earl Paules and John Markovic are
former winners on the RoC Tour. Austin Kochenash, who finished
second this season to Paules, is the 2013 RoC Rookie of the Year.
Mahoning Octoberfast 2015 winner Roger Coss raced this past season
on the RoC Tour but has spent the past few years in Lehighton.
Bringing together the RoC touring stars to face off against the home
team, it will be anyoneís guess as to who can win as asphalt
Modifieds best of the best will go head-to-head on the circular
ďI guess we really wonít know until the checkered flag falls on
April 9, but I know the talent that will be in the field. There is
no telling who can put it together and pull off a great run. It
could be a veteran or it could be a guy who has never seen the place
before and thatís the excitement of hosting a race like this,Ē said
ďYou just donít know and itís a great way to start the year out, a
true locals versus the touring series guys battle. It kicks off the
run for the Race of Champions Series crown and who knows at the end,
maybe itís a Mahoning regular that comes out on top. Right now, we
only know where it begins and it gives all of us something to look
ahead and think about throughout the winter months.Ē
For 2015 RoC champion Matt Hirschman, itís a race he has longed to
have. While traveling countless miles over the past few seasons,
this will be a homecoming of sorts as the Northampton resident is
only 30 miles from the track.
ďItís going to bring in a lot of new people and itís going to bring
in a lot of people back that maybe havenít been there in a while.
Itís just huge for the whole area,Ē said Hirschman, who has 14 wins
at Mahoning Valley including a record tying 11 in extra distance
races with Beers.
ďThe RoC for the past few years has pretty much been a New York
state only series. But now with the new management under Joe
Skotnicki they are branching back out and itís nice to see them
coming to our area. To have a race close to home like this will be
great to perform in front of our hometown fans plus have a touring
race where youíre going to see a lot come in that you wouldnít see
the rest of the year,Ē he continued.
ďI think for a long time Mahoning was like a hidden gem. A lot of
people knew of it but know over the last few years, especially under
Floyd (Santee) paying the higher purses for the bigger races heís
put on, Mahoning Valley is definitely on the map. Even if people
havenít been there, theyíre going to be looking forward to coming to
that race because theyíve heard a lot about the track. Itís going to
be quite a race.Ē
Additional details will be released in the coming weeks.
Dino Oberto / Mahoning Valley Speedway