12 Rookies Officially Register for 2017 D.A.’s Auto Body Series - Plus Important Friday Information
For the 5th consecutive year D.A.’s Auto Body & Repair will be sponsoring the Crate/Sportsman division at the Bridgeport Speedway. “The rookie division is important not only to the racers but, it’s important to the track as well,” explained Dave Adams owner of D.A.’s. “The more new blood we get to come into the sport, the better it will be in the long run,” Adams added. The top 3 point finishers will be honored at the year-end banquet for the Bridgeport Speedway drivers. Along with point fund money, the champion will receive a championship trophy and plaque and champion jackets courtesy of American Racer and Insinger Performance/Sunoco Fuels. The 11-race series will kick off on Friday night, March 24 as part of the 60over Special ‘Doug Hoffman Memorial’ Weekend. A champion will be crowned as the class graduates on Saturday, June 24 before moving up ‘officially’ into the Crate/Sportsman division
Pit Gates Open 3pm
Inspection starts when pits open
Mandatory Rookie Meeting 5:45pm
Regular Driver’s meeting 6:05pm
Drivers called to the track 6:20
Hot Laps 6:30
2nd Rookie Driver’s Meeting 7pm
Rookies will then receive 2 more rounds of Hot Laps before their Feature later in the evening.
The 10th D.A.’s Auto Body Rookie to sign up for the 2017 season is Chris Sammons. The Mantua, NJ driver will be driving the Bob Scott-owned No. 71e Sportsman ride. Although a rookie, Sammons does have some racing experience in the 4 cylinder division at Spirit Speedway. Chris was the ’15 4-Cylinder champion while visiting victory lane on several occasions. Obviously, Sammons has never driven a modified/sportsman type car and will look to transfer his success on the 1/4 mile now to the 5/8 mile. The 26 year-old will have his first crack behind the wheel of a Crate/Sportsman this coming Friday evening with help from Bob Scott and his father Terry.
Erik Mattson of Mickleton, NJ is yet another driver that will be joining the other rookies in this year’s quest for a championship. Mattson will be driving the Scott Hulmes-owned No. 34H machine for the ’17 rookie series The 49 year-old will be behind the wheel of an ’09 Troyer powered by a 602 crate engine. Some of the people that will be helping with Erik’s rookie journey are Bryan, Mary Ann, Jeff, Wendy, Joan, Scott, Jake, Thomas, Courtney, Brenda, and Pete. Some of the sponsors that will adorn the 34H are Bentley Truck Service, Runnemede Refrigeration, Tri State Cleaning, Just 4 Wheels Car Rental, Mike Bradley Certified Laboratories, All State County Glass, Cut Above Tree Service, and TMT Towing & Auto Body. Rest assured if Erik visits the winner’s circle he’ll have plenty of friends to celebrate with.
The final rookie to declare his eligibility heading into Friday’s first point race is 34 year-old Kevin Britt. The Clarksboro, NJ resident is no stranger to the race track, especially Bridgeport. Kevin is the younger brother of Big Block competitor Jim Britt. Serving has Jim’s crew chief for the past several years, Kevin knows all the ‘in’s and out’s’ on turning wrenches. However, now is the time he has to prove himself on the racetrack. Britt will be driving the Bobby Bracall-owned 602 Crate No. 28 for the 2017 series. Bracall will be returning back to Bridgeport to compete weekly in the Stuart Stainless Crate/Sportsman division. Kevin will have Harry and Staci helping in the pits along Bobby and Jim. Some of the sponsors that will be represented on the 2012 Teo car are Garoppo Stone & Garden, ERK Steering Repair, GE Mechanics, Kevin Inc., CIL Underground, SNT Holsteins, Maxima Racing Oils, Jones Racing Products, and CTS Lawn Care.
Jim Gallagher Jr. is the newest driver to sign up for this year’s rookie division at Bridgeport Speedway. The 28 year-old is a second-generation driver to his father Jim Gallagher Sr. The Elder Gallagher raced at Bridgeport in the Sportsman division from ’94-’00 eventually leaving the sport for a good 15 years. “We came to Bridgeport spectating last year and when they brought the cars behind the grandstands and I felt the ground shake, heard those engines, and smelled that fuel, I was hooked once again,” admitted Gallagher Sr. “I knew I had to get back into this with my son, so that’s what we did.” Jimmy who resides in nearby Woolwich, will be driving a 2015 Bicknell 602 crate powered car that will carry No. 31 (Sr.’s old number). Elite Welding Training, Keen Compass Gas, and Lucky Mechanical in Blackwood, NJ are the Gallagher’s main sponsors. We say Gallagher because, yes, Jim Sr. will be strapping himself back behind the wheel as well. After Jimmy runs the rookie race Jim Sr., will race with the Crate/Sportsman on a weekly basis. The 72 year-old is happy to be living out his dream. “I have to say special thanks to my wife Janet for letting me do this once again. Believe it or not I used to make a living racing AMA flat track motorcycles and raced at Bridgeport back in ’74 on my XR750 Harley Davidson,” Gallagher added. Some of the guys who will be crewing for the tag-team are Jeff Platt (tires) and Paulie Olivo who will serve as the Crew Chief and Zach Bailey as well. A special thanks goes out to Sammy Wescott and Mark Blackwell from the Gallaghers as well.
A 7th rookie notified Bridgeport Speedway this week that he plans on running with the ’17 field on the 5/8 mile oval. Scott Kohler will be driving his No. 12s sportsman car during most of the scheduled rookie races. “I really want to be part of this series at Bridgeport, but unfortunately I can’t make all of the races but I plan on being there for most of them,” Kohler explained. The 50 year-old Boyertown, PA driver will be behind the wheel of an ’06 Teo car.
Two of the sponsors that make it all happen for Scott are BK Upholstery and TNT Mowing & More. “Right now it’s just my son Chad, my girlfriend Justine, and daughter Danielle that will be helping me in the pits. I always wanted to do this and finally realized that I had the means to do it, so I said why not!” Kohler raced go karts from 1995 to 2000 before getting hooked onto off road four-wheel drive racing. For the past 15 years Scott could have been found racing on off road obstacle courses all over the PA, DE, MD region.
The 9th D.A.’s Auto Body driver that has added his name to the ever-growing list is young Matt Luzi. If you think the name ‘Luzi’ sounds familiar, well, you would be correct. The Luzi name is connected to Joy Auto Parts, which has been seen on racecars over the past 35 plus years. 17 year-old Matt is a fourth-generation driver hailing out of Branchburg, NJ. Last year, Matt was able to hot lap his car in a couple of races at the end of the season, therefore keeping his rookie status eligible. The car has since been received a new body and lettering for the 2017 season. The 2011 Bickenell No. 7L will be powered by a 602 crate motor this season. Matt’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all raced in the state of NJ over the course of the last 60 plus years. Matt’s father Garrett raced SS Sprints most recently about 10 years ago. Joe Luzi, Matt’s grandfather drove the popular ‘Toy’ car at Flemington back in the 1980’s, while Joe’s father John raced up in north Jersey in now defunct stadiums and arenas. Matt’s racing experience thus far have consisted of all go karts at tracks like Oakland Valley, Wall, and Shellhammers. ‘Joy Auto Parts’ (located in Greenbrook and Chester, NJ) is the main sponsor of the family-owed Crate/Sportsman. ‘Joy’ has also stayed involved in dirt track racing by sponsoring drivers such as Sammy Martz and John McClelland over the years. The newest Luzi hopes to continue the family tradition and make his family proud at Bridgeport this coming season.
The fourth member to sign up for the 2017 D.A.’s Auto Body Rookie Series is 51 year-old Nazareth, Pennsylvania’s Jeff Stuart. Stuart has been involved in dirt racing for many years as a spectator and pit member for a few drivers and friends. However, this year Jeff is finally going to get behind the wheel of a Crate/Sportsman and try it himself! Stuart will be piloting last year’s rookie champion racecar of Chuck Sayres. Sayres will still be racing with the ‘regular’ Crate/Sportsman once Stuart completes his 8-lap rookie event. The shared ride is a 2014 Teo chassis that will carry No. 38. Some of the sponsors that will be dressed on the No. 38 machine will be John & Kathy Mac/Land Image, Hamill Flooring, Williams Auto Parts/Napa, CTS Lawn Care, Pizza Villa, ERK Steering, Rodney Stevenson-State Farm, and Paul’s Auto & Diesel Repair. “I wouldn’t be able to do this without the help of a lot of people,” admitted Stuart. “From Chuck letting me use the car, some of the sponsors that are helping me, and Ryan Watt’s crew. I’m really looking forward to practice day and that first rookie race!
The name Belmont is no stranger to dirt racing in the northeast by any means. Well, Brett Belmont will be carrying on the family name at Bridgeport Speedway in 2017 as he becomes the 5th D.A.’s Auto Body Rookie to sign up. The 19 year-old Langhorne, PA rookie is the son to well-known racer Andy Belmont. The Belmonts will be out in full force this season as Brett’s brother Andrew and uncle Kevin will be competing in the Crate/Sportsman division on a weekly basis. Father Andy has many wins at Bridgeport coming back in the 1980’s, while his brother Kevin has won a few of his own in the past couple of seasons at the 5/8 mile. Brett will be driving the No. 63 which is a 2008 Bicknell with a 602 crate engine under the hood. Brett raced 1/4 midgets 10 years ago is looking forward to jumping behind the wheel of a ‘big car’ in March. The Belmont machine will have plenty of sponsors that Brett hopes to bring with him into victory lane: They are Woody’s Bourbon Cream, Belmont’s Garage, KB Letterin’, ISC Racer Tape, G Force Racing Gear, Mechanics Wear, Continental Fire & Safety, Phil-Mart Transportation, Mod Space Motorsports, and PWD Wholesale. Father Andy will lead the brigade back in the pit area along with brother Andrew, uncle Kevin, uncle Tom, Dan, Jim, Dave, and George. The question is which Belmont will find the winner’s circle first? Brett will have the first shot on Friday, March 24.
Rookie #6 - Jim Cheesman has decided to throw his hat in the ring to become the 2017 Bridgeport Speedway Rookie track champion. Cheesman is basically new to stock car racing but that isn’t stopping Jim from becoming heavily involved in the sport. The 36 year-old crew man turned racer hails from Bridgeton, NJ. Cheesman will be steering a 602 crate ’14 Bicknell chassis that will carry the No. 587. “The number is the month and year my wife was born, so that’s how we came up with 587,” explained Cheesman. This rookie is still in search of sponsorship to help with his 2017 efforts. “Right now, Pete (Visconti) has been helping me and pointing me in the right direction with things. I helped him the past few years when I got introduced to dirt track racing.” Cheesman’s winter project is almost complete of having a new garage built to house is new ‘racing toy’. “I liked being in the pits and loved being at the track so I thought, it would be even better behind the wheel of one of these things. It’s going to be a family affair as my wife is pretty excited about this season as well.”
Past champions include Ian Humphreys (’13), Matt Peck (’14), Steve Kemery (’15), and Chuck Sayres (’16). The first driver looking to join that group is Oliva Ingersoll. As of now, Olivia seems to be the only female entry in this year’s rookie field (Shannon Marshall placed third in last year’s rookie points). Ingersoll got her introduction to racing just three short years ago by helping fellow friend and Big Block racer Mike Franz. “Once I started coming to the race track, I just fell in love with everything and really wanted to race,” expressed Ingersoll. Oliva tried her hand at a couple of ‘Powder Puff’ races on the 1/4 mile and all that did was increase her desire even more to try it ‘for real’. So she went out and purchased an ’06 Teo car that will carry No. 95, along with a 602 crate engine. Ingersoll was able to get two late practice sessions in last season in the final two events at Bridgeport. The 21 year-old Gibbstown, NJ resident works on the car all by herself. “I don’t really have a crew other than Mike’s crew to help at the track, and if I have a question, I usually ask Mike for advice.” Although the odds may look stacked against this young lady, you can never count out hard work and determination.
The second driver to officially declare themselves eligible for the 2017 D.A.’s rookie class is Keith McKinley. Although a rookie driver, Keith is no stranger to Bridgeport as he has been racing in the 4-cylinder class the past few seasons on the Spirit Auto Center 1/4 mile on Friday nights. “I just wanted to move up really. The 4-cylinders were fun but I was ready for a change,” offered McKinley. The 40 year-old Deptford, NJ driver purchased an ’08 Dirt Wheels chassis this off-season so he could participate in the ’17 rookie series. McKinley is currently working on securing some sponsorship for his No. 9 Sportsman to help aid him in his rookie quest. His girlfriend Jennifer Hardy and his uncle Terry are his pit crew for his rookie campaign this season.
The third driver to register into the D.A.’s Auto Body Rookie Series for 2017 is young Tommy Errico Jr.
If you recognize the Errico name, you’re not imagining things. Tom Errico Sr raced in the late 80s and early 90s at both Bridgeport and East Windsor Speedways. The elder Errico did record a win at Sportsman win at Bridgeport and a couple at Windsor 25 plus years ago. Now, it’s time for his son to carry the ‘racing’ torch in the family. The second-generation driver was able to shake down the car a couple of times late last season while Sr. also jumped behind the wheel to help with the set up. Tommy Jr will be piloting an ’04 Troyer powered by a 602 crate motor. The 19 year-old Feasterville, Pa driver will carry the ‘X-Rated’ number on the sides of his Crate/Sportsman hot rod. Some of the sponsors that make it all happen for the Errico Team are K&M Trucking, R. Miller & Sons Automotive, and Sunglass Central. If you were to take a visit into the pit area you’d be likely to find Billy Culver, Colin Barber, and of course Tom Sr. turning some wrenches each and every weekend. You can count on Errico Jr to try everything he can to keep up the family tradition by making it into Bridgeport Speedway’s victory lane at some point this season.
Well, there ya have it fans. What a rookie field that Bridgeport Speedway has assembled for this season. Believe it or not there are still a few more drivers that may join the dozen already registered. Drivers who have expressed interest that have not yet committed to running the whole series are Bryan Gusley, Joseph Brown, Ken Andreas, Joe Infante, and Jimmy Chester. We wish all the D.A.’s Auto Body Rookies a safe and successful 2017 season.