|Jody Halbedl Photo|
Pittsburgh, PA (August 6, 2017) Sometimes the best events are the ones the fans have a personal stake it. For the Jook George Memorial RUSH Touring Late Model race coming up this Saturday, August 12, there's a personal stake and then some. Once again, area fan/promoter Branden Lockwich has meticulously put together the largest event in terms of payout, at one of the most legendary facilities in the country.
It's been a labor of love for Lockwich who spends countless hours finding lap sponsors, contingency sponsors and putting the finishing touches on the event to make it special and unique.
"Ever since I was a kid, my parents took me to the races and Jook didn't live too terribly far away from me so just growing up since I was a toddler I knew him," Lockwich said. "He was a great guy. He had so many guys driving his cars over the years. I remember going up to Jook after the races were over just bench racing about the night until the sun came up and I was in grade school back then."
Lockwich took that passion and decided to take on the responsibility of building the event back into a race that stands out in the western Pennsylvania region and beyond. Drivers from upstate New York, Ohio and West Virginia are expected to make the journey for their name on the trophy and the $4010 winners share of the largest purse in RUSH Late Model racing.
"It's good to have a good paying race, it means a lot to the family and I, that Bryce Davis came almost four hours to get to Pittsubrgh from New York. I appreciated it and the family appreciated it. To me, the best part about is to just honor Jook and put on a good show for his family. We try to make it a good paying race and make it a good night all the way around."
|Jody Halbedl Photo|
Lockwich's dream has been fulfilled, through his hard work the race has been restored and then some. Much more than a full field will be anticipated come Saturday night, and no driver will go home empty handed thanks to his efforts and the contributions of many individuals and businesses. Lockwich takes donations from fans, other drivers, and sponsors into the mix and rewards them with many mentions on social media, and adds it to a base donated from a member of the George family.
"The George family once again contributed $8,000 for the race and without that anonymous individual it wouldn't be possible. There are so many people that contributed to it, so many lap sponsors and the best part about it is that all that money goes right back into the purse. Right now, it pays $320 for 26th. On a normal 20 lap show at Pittsburgh, it's $350 just for second place. So if a guy makes a couple of laps and has to pull in for whatever reason, he makes almost as much as he would for second on a regular night. Only one guy can win, so we try to spread the money throughout the field."
It is perhaps, one of the finest examples of fan funding in the area. But the race itself will be far from ordinary in terms of competitive balance. It's truly an invaders versus homeboys atmosphere and the weekly competition at Pittsburgh Pennsylvania's Motor Speedway represents some of the toughest around, with some area Super Late Model standouts joining the fray as well.
|Jody Halbedl Photo|
"As far as our locals go you have to look at Daryl Charlier, he's always fast and runs right up against that wall and he's got three wins there this year. John Mollick also has three wins this year and he's usually very fast at Pittsburgh. Last year, I don't know if anybody would have picked Mike Reft and he just went out and won the race. When you come to Pittsburgh, the locals have an advantage and it's not always that way when a RUSH touring series comes to a track. Pittsburgh probably has the toughest field of locals that the touring guys go against. I could see seven or eight guys having a good chance at this if it goes their way. Russ King and Mike Pegher should be there too."
When: Saturday, August 12; 6:00 PM
Where: Pittsburgh Pennsylvania's Motor Speedway
At Stake: $4010 up for grabs in RUSH Late Model Touring Series Action
|Pat Miller Photo|
Davis Leads Charge
New York's Bryce Davis leads the touring series points coming into action this Saturday night, and he's at the top of the list for a reason. Davis hasn't finished outside the top 10 in his nine starts this season, collecting two wins in the process. For a driver that is situated in a Northeastern Modified heavy geography, Davis made the unusual jump into full fendered racing and has been getting progressively better every season.
"My dad was always racing when I was growing up and I was into it racing Karts and Four Cylinders for a couple of years," Davis said during a recent interview. We got into the BRP 360 Late Models and then we started crate racing with Fastrak and we've been at the level ever since. We don't really run weekly, I have a wife and a couple of kids to keep happy so we run the whole RUSH tour and hit some races in between to gain some points for the weekly series. So we really don't have a home track."
In each of the past two seasons, Davis has been a player in the title chase for the RUSH Late Models and he brings his game to Pittsburgh this Saturday, looking to add his largest career victory to his trophy case. Davis knows the challenges that the "Monster Half Mile" poses and finds the track and surface to his liking.
|Pat Miller Photo|
"Pittsburgh became one of my favorite tracks at the end of last year. We had a really good run going at the Pittsburgher weekend and had some unfortunate events that took us out of contention to win there. It's one of my top two favorite tracks down that way. The biggest challenge there is getting the car to stick. To win there, you're just about wide open the whole way around the track and if you're not, someone's going by you. It wears on you. The G-force going into the corners wears on your legs and on your upper body. And it's a mental thing too. You're up against the wall going 120 miles per hour. It's hard to get around that place and win there. It takes a good time trial and a good heat to get a good starting spot for the feature."
He's got an eye towards venturing out into the land of the Super Late Models in the coming seasons, and has battled with the some of the best in the area at touring events where drivers drop in a RUSH legal engine and look to take home the lion's share of the prize money. And he's more than held his own, as evidenced by a superb three car battle at Lernerville Speedway in June of this year where he went head to head with track champion Russ King and front runner Mike Pegher Jr., who has been dominant in his RUSH and Fastrak appearances over the years.
"I think our plan going forward is to hopefully next year make the jump to some Super Late Model racing. We'll see where the funds get us to over the winter, both Stateline and Eriez Speedways are within two and a half hours from. But that would be the biggest challenge for us, just trying to find some local shows for us to get seat time at."
Davis will have to keep earning top five finishes to stay ahead of rival John Waters who lurks just 10 points back in the season standings with just six events remaining.
"We've won the Summer Chase Series before but we've never won a touring championship. It's something we've always wanted to accomplish. We were really close last year and didn't close it out. So it would mean a lot to us and give us some confidence."
Davis will be one to watch on Saturday night as will Waters and the local field as well as the field battles it out over 40 laps. Be sure not to miss the action at Pittsburgh Pennsylvania's Motor Speedway. We'll be there doing a preview show on our social media via Twitter and Facebook.