by Scott Kindberg
July 20, 2012
‘Yanks’ Are Coming
"This is like having the New York Yankees play at Diethrick Park,'' Anderson said. "These guys are the best of the best and they're playing in our 'park.' The Lucas Oil Dirt Late-Model Series has never been in this area of the country, never raced anywhere within, I bet, 200 miles of (Stateline). This is a rare opportunity to see the best of the best in our 'ballpark.'"
At least 12 of the touring Series regulars, including Scott Bloomquist and Jimmy Owens, are expected as well as the top regional racers from New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania and, of course, Stateline's regulars.
Ashville's Dick Barton, who recorded his 75th career Super Late Model victory at Stateline last Saturday, will be among them.
"This is just the cream of the crop,'' said Barton, who drives for car owners John and Charlie Lacki of Sinclairville. "As local racers, we race Saturday or maybe a couple other times during the week. We're just hobby racers where (the Lucas Oil Dirt Late-Model Series drivers) are professional racers. They do it for a living. They have to perform to put food on the table. I do it just for the enjoyment of the sport I absolutely love."
And Barton, who has 239 wins in a 40-year career, is one of the best the area has ever produced. By winning last Saturday, the 57-year-old inched closer to Bobby Schnars' all-time Stateline victory record of 79 and continues to prove that he is still a force to be reckoned with after four decades behind the wheel.
"Bobby Schnars was my idol and just to be mentioned in the same sentence is a huge honor to me,'' Barton said. "I honestly started wondering if I was ever going to win another race. I knew the juices were still flowing and I knew the ability was still there, but winning races is a very tough thing. Last Saturday was like getting the monkey off our back. That's not to say there's going to be any more (wins), but we, as a team, are very proud of what we've accomplished."
Tuesday night will have special meaning for Barton, who would love to turn back the clock to 2006 when he recorded a stunning SLM Stateline victory when the World of Outlaws Dirt Model Series appeared.
"He defeated all the professionals,'' said Anderson, who is joined on Barton's team by crew chief John Lamb, Greg Farrar and Ed Green. "It was the first time in the World of Outlaws that a local guy had ever beaten Series regulars. It wasn't expected. It's like a guy who plays (golf) at Moon Brook (Country Club) winning the U.S. Open."
Of course, securing a date with Lucas Oil is quite a feather in the cap for Stateline Speedway, too.
"I can't believe it's here,'' said track owner Jennifer Seamens. "Fran (Seamens, Jennifer's late husband) opened the door in 2010 in his last visit to Florida. He really wanted Lucas Oil here. It's been an effort, but we just kept at it, continued to stay in touch (with them) and focused on everything that needed to be done here in the event we were able to have a show like this for the fans and here we are."
Twenty-four cars will qualify for the feature - called the "Empire 50," which is presented by Roberts Trucking and Davies & Sons - but getting there will be quite a challenge, providing fans with plenty of entertainment.
"On one hand,'' Barton said, "(the fans are) hoping the locals can compete with them, but on the other hand they're seeing just exactly how good these traveling professionals are. If we have any advantage, we do race here every week and we know the track conditions. But these guys are so good and so adept at adjusting their cars. Initially they may be a tick off but, guess what? Come feature time this is why they are the best in the world.''
Seamens can't wait for Tuesday.
"It's everything to me and the drivers who have just supported this for so many years,'' she said. " It's one thing (Fran Seamens) wanted to do before he died. It's a little overwhelming. I'm not going to know until the checkered flag is dropped and it's over.
"We want to make it a show the fans won't forget."
NOTES: Anderson said four authentic cars will be on display behind the bleachers at Stateline on Tuesday. They are Sam LaMancuso's 1972 Dodge, Jim Scott's 1940 Ford, Dave Wilson's "Ace of Spades" and Charles "Doc" Sinatra's midget race car. Tickets are $20 general admission, $10 for children and $30 for the pits. ... Gates open at 3 p.m.