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MAJOR GROWTH TO BE SEEN IN PACE RUSH SERIES IN 2021

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RUSH Late Model Series

Major Growth To Be Seen In Pace RUSH Series In 2021

Over 40 New Racers Set To Make Their RUSH Debuts Led By The Sprints & Late Models

By Doug Kennedy

Note: This story will be presented in two parts due to the high influx of new racers to the RUSH Series; part one is on Late Model and Sprint drivers and part two on Sportsman Modified and Pro Mod drivers. Also, the new group of RUSH Stock Car and Karting drivers will be featured in individual separate stories at a later date

Pulaski, PA (February 17, 2021)…If there is one word that describes the Pace Performance RUSH Racing Series together with Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC, it’s “growth”, and as the 2021 season draws near that term correctly describes RUSH. It is expected that over 40 new racers will compete in 2021 throughout the RUSH Series including Late Models, Sprint Cars, Sportsman Modifieds, Pro Mods, and the new Stock Cars! The RUSH Karting Series, which was launched in 2020, is also encompassed under the expanding RUSH umbrella and is expected to grow in 2021. RUSH also provides the engine sealing process on all crate engines at Jennerstown (PA) Speedway, a track that has continued to expand its crate engine presence. All told RUSH racers will by vying for well over $250,000 in cash and valuable product, the highest in Series history!

RUSH’s main objective has always been to keep people racing with true “cost containment” technical rules packages surrounded by valuable championship programs; the combination seems to be working as the Series continues to attract an extremely diversified group of racers whose numbers exceed well over 600 throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, and 2021 will be no different.

Drivers who have been racing all their lives, those that are getting in a race car for the very first time or those with various levels of experience and background, have found a home with RUSH; and age doesn’t seem to be a factor either as competitors range in age from early teens through the 60s. From rookies to hall of famers, RUSH is fitting the bill and achieving their number one goal of “keeping people racing”.

As an example, eight of the 10 new drivers in the RUSH Sprint Car division for 2021 have never raced a Sprint Car before, although they do have racing experience, and a couple have never even sat in a Sprint Car. Four of those 10 are all better than a half century in age, and this includes Rod George, a hall of famer with more than 100 “410” Sprint Car victories, who will be wheeling 2020 championship car owner Ted Hull’s #41.

Russ Sansosti of Youngstown, Ohio will be one of the new drivers to compete for the Pace RUSH Sprint Car Equipment Rental Options Weekly Series Championship. Sansosti and George are the only new drivers to have ever driven a Sprint Car. Sansosti started his career as a 16-year-old in 2003 with a “360” Sprint Car before upgrading to a “410”, which he’ll also continue to compete in along with RUSH.

“An old family friend (Buzzy Utsinger) always liked what RUSH has done,” Sansosti said. “We talked a few months ago and we decided to go ahead and do the Series. I like the idea of RUSH because it puts everybody on a level playing field and you can’t outspend one another.”

Unfortunately, Utsinger, who was also a good friend to RUSH Directors Vicki Emig and Mike Leone dating back to Emig’s tenure of ownership at Mercer Raceway Park (1999-2010), passed away in late January. “I’m doing it as a memory to Buzzy,” Sansosti said. “It will be a tribute to him. Buzzy was a guy who like to have a small motor and race against the guys with the big motors and compete.”

Fifty-one year old Bob Bland of Ashtabula, Ohio will be in his first season in the RUSH Sprint Car . “I’m looking forward to joining this great division,” Bland said. “I’ve raced many divisions, but never in a Sprint Car. I love everything about the rules and what the Series is doing and I’m excited to be a part of it. I can’t thank Vicki (Emig) enough for helping develop racing divisions for us that are affordable and competitive.”

Although he will be a novice in a Sprint Car, Bland has raced plenty of other cars beginning in 1993 in a Street Stock. Bland also raced Hobby Stocks, Econo Mods, E-Mods, and Limited Late Models; however, he hasn’t raced since 2013. His car will sport the famous Evil Knievel throwback graphics.

“It’s one of those things that I’m just doing to have fun,” Bland said of his upcoming Sprint Car experience. “I’ve won a few championships in my career, but this is something I just want to try. We all know how expensive racing has become. I got turned away from the Late Models because guys were spending tons on their chassis. Nobody wants to go out and race knowing you are being out spent, and the RUSH Sprints definitely has that under control. I’ve never made one lap in a Sprint Car, but I’m smart enough to realize that I will start in the back, chill and learn, and just have some fun. I also like the fact that I can race at tracks that I’ve never had the opportunity before because they didn’t have my division.”

At 56 years of age, Bill Watson of Conneaut, Ohio will also be competing in the Sprint Car division for the 2021 season. “I have never sat in a Sprint Car before, but I’m hoping to have a good time, make some new friends and above all be safe,” Watson said of his upcoming season.

His son, Bud, currently races with the RUSH Late Models and will race at Raceway 7 weekly and as much of the Touring Series as possible. “I hope to help him as much as possible and still be able to compete in the Sprint Car division. Hopefully there will be nights when we can race at the same track on the same night.”

Watson’s racing resume that began in 1985 includes Big-Block Modifieds and Econo Mod racing. “I’m very ready for this season and looking forward to being part of a great racing group with RUSH, “Watson said. He plans on a season that will include about 15 races at Raceway 7, Sharon, Lernerville, PPMS, Bradford, and McKean.

Kevin Kaserman 41 of Middleford, Ohio is in his very first year of racing and it will be in a RUSH Sprint Car. “I’ve been going to races since I was little,” Kaserman said. “At 14 I lost interest in racing and didn’t regain interest until I was 30. Since then I’ve been to some races, but it was last year when I went to a race at Wayne County that rekindled my interest again. When I heard the ‘410’ Sprints hot lapping, I was hooked once again. I had never felt like that. How could I have stopped following racing and then get obsessed with racing once again?”

“RUSH is a good starting point,” continued Kaserman. “There’s no way I could get into a ‘410’ financially or physically. I like the fact that the RUSH Sprint is cost-effective. I don’t know anything about engines so having a sealed engine package seemed to be the best way to go. I began watching the Series when it started in 2018; it was awesome! I was going to drive a Street Stock, but I’m 40, not getting any younger and I always wanted to drive a Sprint. I can’t thank Vicki enough for helping develop a racing division for guys like us that is affordable and competitive.”

To help him learn more about a Sprint, he watches YouTube videos of drivers building their race cars. “Honestly I don’t want to sound like an idiot when I’m talking to other drivers,” Kaserman said. “I just want to get to know the other drivers and gain as much knowledge about the car.”

At 38 years old, Mike Mathieson from of Sandy Lake, Pennsylvania has spent 22 of his years racing. At 16 he began racing a Modified before moving into a Stock Car and most recently a Mini Stock; this year it will be a RUSH Sprint Car. When his boss, David Hoobler, at H&H Materials bought a Sprint Car, he asked Matheson to drive it.

“I thought I would never race a Sprint Car because I couldn’t afford one,” Mathieson said. “I really never got involved with RUSH before, but know it’s affordable and puts everyone on a level playing field putting it back in the driver’s hands. I’m nervous because it’s going to be a big learning curve for me. I was speaking with another driver, Jeremy Weaver, and he said everything runs smooth with RUSH but don’t try to cheat because they (RUSH) will catch you.”

Another driver in the RUSH Sprint Car series that’s in his 50s, is Mike Hover of Warren, Ohio. Though at 56 and from a racing background, the number of races Hover has run is limited. As a youngster, he remembers going to Jack Sodeman’s shop and looking at his Sprint Car hoping one day that he could race it.

Hover said that once RUSH came out with the Sprint Car division it was something he knew couldn’t be good for him; a sarcastic comment because Mike has been around racing his entire life and knew now he just might get his chance at driving one! “I think RUSH is the future of racing,” stated Hover. “Most people with regular jobs just can’t race in the ‘open’ series. RUSH has provided another avenue for people to compete.”

His dad, the late Stan, Sr., was an accomplished racer and started the well-known Hover Racing parts and tire business in 1965. His brother, Stan, Jr. bought the business and through the years owned a NASCAR team for a number of drivers including Dave Blaney, Joe Ruttman, and Morgan Shepherd.

“I did over the wall stuff with the ARCA and Cup cars,” Hover said. “I have three nephews who are World of Outlaws crew members (Matt McCrimmon, Craig McCrimmon, and Nick Hover). In 2012, I toured for a year with Vic Coffey and Tim McCreadie driving the transporter and being part of the pit crew. I built the race cars for my brother. I’ve done just about everything, but drive for myself. Once the RUSH Sprint Car series came out, I knew that was the direction I wanted to go.”

Another newcomer to the RUSH Sprint Series is 29-year-old Jordan Hamilton of Collier Township, Pennsylvania. The youngest of the 2021 freshman class of Sprint drivers as five of the eight new drivers are in their 50s or beyond.

Add to that, Hamilton is in his very first year in a racecar period. “I’ve been around racing my whole life,” Hamilton said whose brother Eric, Jr. races a RUSH Late Model. “For me, RUSH gives you a competitive edge without having to spend a whole lot of money. It seems like the way to go because you don’t have to compete against guys who have larger budgets. RUSH is a great deal with the product giveaways for the drivers as well as everything else they do for their drivers.”

Jordan and his dad, Eric, own a business called Eric Hamilton Towing and Road Service located in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania. “I’ll try to make as many races as possible and race as many weekends as I can,” Hamilton continued. “I’m going to go out and give it my best and most importantly earn the respect of the other drivers.”

“I’ve been waiting to race a Sprint Car my whole life and now because of RUSH and the engine package, I can afford to do it.” Those were the words of 58-year-old first year RUSH Sprint Car series driver, Jeff Metsger of Lebanon, Pennsylvania. “I know it will be a big learning curve for me.”

“I had a Pure Stock at Motordrome in 1985 but moved into Go-Karts because it was something I could afford,” Metsger said. He ended up winning all types of championships along the Eastern seaboard and then moved up to the highest class in the Karting world- Unlimited All-Stars. “I won that championship seven times.”

After a nine year hiatus from racing, Metsger got into the Outlaw Winged Karts and ended up with a championship in that series as well. He still has three of those cars but plans on selling them off so that he can devote his time and finances towards the RUSH Sprint series full-time.

Phil Young is another driver who will be joining the RUSH Sprint Car Series for the upcoming racing season. Young, who lives in Kittanning, Pa., raced Go-Karts some 25 to 30 years ago. And after that, there was no racing at all until he decided to compete in the RUSH Sprint Series this upcoming season. At 36 years of age, Young will be in the same boat as seven of the other newcomers to the Sprint Division: That is, he has never been in a Sprint Car prior to the start of this season.

“We’ll make what races we can,” said Young, whose job as a Kittanning policeman will take priority. “I’ll try and get the best equipment and use this year as a learning experience and not race for points. I hope to keep improving every season. RUSH seems like its building every year and obviously they are doing things right. It’s a good series for the average individual price-wise.”

“To say I’m excited about this year would be an understatement,” said 26-year-old Jim Alvater, Jr., who will be racing in the RUSH Late Models for the first time in his career “I wanted to race PPMS (Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway) and RUSH races there so RUSH it is. The more research I did into the RUSH program the more I wanted to participate. Their sponsors and contingency programs make it very enticing.”

“I spoke to Mike Reft, as well as Scott Gunn, whose two sons Zack and Jake, run RUSH; just about everybody I’ve spoken to had nothing but good things to say about the RUSH Series,” added Alvater. “I’m always looking for a new challenge and the one that is ahead of me is pretty big, but nothing I don’t think I can handle. ”

Besides racing, Alvater also has a background in hockey as he played for CCAC. “His Father Jim, Sr. said, “His hockey days were certainly something! It was the expensive sport, not racing” he laughed. Alvater also spent times in Go-Karts and racing Motocross.

“I think it’s (RUSH) a good program,” said Alvater, Sr. who will work with his son turning the wrenches for the 2021 season as well as providing some financial support. “It’s an economical way for people to get into racing in a series where you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg.”

Brett Hope is 29 years old and lives in Bleinheim, Ontario, Canada. His racing career started when he was 17, but was put on hold because of hockey. He played the sport when he attended Buffalo State and ascended to playing for the Fayetteville Fire Ants in North Carolina before hanging up his skates. He then got back into racing competing with a Thunder Stock and an UMP Modified. This will be his first year in a Late Model racing with RUSH.

“I’ve heard nothing but good things about RUSH,” said Hope. “They are fair and the competition is hard to beat and that’s what I’m looking for. I think it will be a good challenge for me.” I would like to race this season around eight weekends that have multiple events on these weekends.

“I’m single now so I want to get into doing as much racing as possible.” His intentions are to run as many Touring Series events as possible. His crew includes his two brothers, Kyle and Shawn and four friends, Brandon Suk, Evan Howard, Elliott Wilkins and Mike Legue.

Fifty- two-year-old Patrick Parker of Candor, New York will be a first year competitor in the RUSH Late Models. His career in racing began in a Go-Kart when he was 16. He has also raced Big-Block and Small-Block Modifieds along with “360” Sprints. Late last year he ran a Late Model for three shows.

“I think RUSH is a real good series to run with and I’m hoping to get some additional sponsors so I can do a lot of their touring shows,” Parker continued. “From what I see, I like the way they go about everything with the engines, tires, and checking after the shows to make sure everything is legal. Their tech work is better than any other series I’ve seen so that’s why I chose RUSH.”

Thirty-four-year-old Trevor Herr of Gibsonia, Pennsylvania will also be doing his racing in 2021 for the very first time with RUSH. Herr’s prior racing experience came with an E-Mod for a couple of seasons when he raced at Sharon.

“I will be joining the RUSH Late Model division and even though I will be running a limited schedule, I could not be more excited,” stated Herr. “I always wanted to race a Late Model so I sold the E-Mod and bought a Super Late Model which didn’t turn out very well.”

Herr then took a couple of years off before he decided to save his money and purchase a Crate Late Model. Herr also received some racing help from Mike Pegher and Chuck Kennedy. “I learned a lot from them,” Herr said. “I’ve never wanted to do anything but race and getting this opportunity is great. I’m not looking to race for points; I just want to learn, get some laps, and focus our attention on 2022. I’m a small fish in a big pond and just want to race and that’s what RUSH has provided me- the opportunity to race.”

Jeff Reeley of Mt. Airy, Maryland becomes the fifth new driver to become part of the RUSH Late Model division for 2021. Reeley started racing Enduros in the 1980s at Lincoln Speedway. He then moved to a Semi-Late Model in the 1990s at Potomac before ending his racing career in 2001 when his two kids, Tristen and Madison, came along. With only a few starts in a Late Model, 2021 will be the first time in nearly 20 years that Jeff has got behind the wheel of a racecar.

“The children came along and that was the end of my racing career, “ said Reeley, the owner of J Reeley Painting and Drywall. “I’ve seen quite a few RUSH races over the last couple of years, but there wasn’t any money in the budget for me to race. Now with the two kids wrapping up their careers at Towson University, I have one last hurrah to have some fun racing. RUSH is a good cost-effective way to go racing and I’m absolutely looking forward to it.”

Even though he only raced a couple of times last season in a Dirt Late Model under the RUSH banner, 28-year-old Joe Squatriglia of Bridgeville, Pennsylvania will race full-time at PPMS for 2021.

Joe grew up as a kid in Monmouth County, New Jersey before moving to Pennsylvania in 2004. The first form of racing that he and his dad went to were the horses. From there he and his younger brother, Andrew, raced dirt bikes. That was in middle school and following his graduation, he entered the Marine Corp, got married, and had two daughters. Last year he got back into racing sharing driving duties in the Late Model with his brother and the guy who he bought the car off of, Zach Kane.

“That was the car we shared last year and I ended up buying the car from him last season,” explained Joe. “Zach has been a big help to keep me racing. He does everything for me including working on my shock package. I think RUSH is a good series and is well organized. If you’re a guy trying to get into a racing, RUSH is definitely the way to go.”

Andy VanEvery of Jamestown, New York is a late addition to the RUSH Late Model division. At 33 years of age, VanEvery raced a Pro Stock last year at Eriez and Bradford Speedways. Now in his second year of racing, he will be behind the wheel of a RUSH Late Model for his first time, and is plans are to run Stateline and Bradford Speedways.

“The reason we joined this series was because of the availability for us to travel,” said Andy. “I also like how all the rules make it an even class. We’re excited to get things underway.”

The eighth newcomer to the RUSH Late Model Series will be Zach Crawford of McDonald, Pa. The 18-year-old will drive for his parents Jim and Crystal Crawford, who own Crawford Auto Repair located in Sewickley, Pa. The couple lives in McDonald, Pennsylvania. “We’ll pick up some races on the RUSH schedule and we’ll see how we do,” Crawford said.

Stay tuned for part two on the newcomers in the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds and RUSH Pro Mods. With the introduction of the new RUSH Stock Car division at Dog Hollow, Stateline, and Eriez Speedways, an additional 12-15 drivers are also expected to join the RUSH ranks along with new racers in the RUSH Karting Series that will begin its second season this year. A special story will feature these new RUSH racers nearer to the beginning of their individual seasons.

RUSH’s objective of “keeping people racing” seems to be right on point and flourishing, as an enthusiastic new group of racers join the RUSH ranks in 2021, and look forward to an exciting season full of excitement and valuable opportunities!

RUSH Racing Series is brought to you by Pace Performance together with Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC along with the support of Hoosier Tire, Bilstein Shocks, Sunoco Race Fuels, Bazell Race Fuels, Insinger Performance, MSD Performance, Holley Performance Products, Hovis Auto & Truck Supply, Born2Run Lubricants, Flynn’s Tire, FK Rod Ends, Wehrs Machine & Racing Products, Schoenfeld Headers, Jones Racing Products, TBM Brakes, Performance Bodies & Parts, Racing Electronics, Dirt Defender, Wrisco Industries, Frankland Racing Supply, Landrum Performance Spring, Ontime Body & Graphic, Zarin Truck & Automotive, Sherwood Wheels, Alternative Power Sources, Precise Racing Products, Lincoln Electric, Velocita-USA, Waterstone Mortgage Hermitage, CrateInsider.com, Vahlco Wheels, and Wedge Motorsports.

E-mail can be sent to the RUSH Racing Series at info@rushracingseries.com and snail mail to 4368 Route 422, Pulaski, PA 16143. Office phone is 724-964-9300. The RUSH Racing Series website is www.rushracingseries.com. Like our various Facebook page and Twitter accounts by searching for the appropriate divisions.

RUSH Late Model Series

By Doug Kennedy

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