February 6th, 2005
KIRKWOOD, NY - The 55th consecutive season of auto racing at Five Mile Point Speedway will kick off with one of the quarter-mile oval's most tradition-laden races.
The Southern Tier Open, an event that gained notoriety for its large autumn congregations of competitors, will find a new home in the spring at Five Mile Point in 2005, promoter Andrew Harpell announced last week.
The program will span two early-season race days, opening up the season on April 9 (Sat.) and 17 (Sun.) before the point battles begin in May.
"We wanted to move the traditional Southern Tier Open to the spring this season in order to start the season off with plenty of excitement," Harpell said. "This will also now make the annual National Quarter Mile Dirt Track Championship Weekend our main focal point in the fall and distinguish the two different events."
On Sat., April 9 the Patriot Sprint Group will head a three-division card with a 25-lap feature. It will serve as the Season Opener for the Patriot organization and will mark its return to FMP after a one-year hiatus.
The winged Sprinters will hit the speedway for the first time since the track widening project in turns one and two last October. They will also be among the first to compete on the all-new clay surface that was put down following the final '04 checkered.
Five Mile Point's location is pleasing for two of the Patriot Group's stars. 2004 champion George Suprick III hails from nearby Clarks Summitt, Pa., while Howard Singer is a native of Whitney Point, N.Y., a quick jaunt up Route I-81 from FMP. All the stars of the Patriot group will be on hand to challenge the local talent.
On Aug. 30, 2003, Chris Mulheisen fought off 24th-starter Rick Wilson, Ray Preston, Judi Bates and Billy Krull to score the win in the only Patriot appearance at the Point to date.
Joining the Sprints on the agenda will be a 30-lap Southern Tier Open Sportsman main and a 25-lap Southern Tier Open Pure Stock feature event. Race time is 4 p.m. The rain date is Sat., April 16.
The ground-pounding Modifieds will headline the program on Sun., April 17 with the Southern Tier Open 50. Alcohol, sail panels and any 92 inch tire will be permitted.
The Street Stocks will participate in a 25-lap Southern Tier Open, while the IMCA/UMP Modifieds will compete in a 25-lap Southern Tier Open Challenge. A 20-lap Four Cylinder Stock Southern Tier Open will fill out the card. Race time is 2 p.m.
Last year, Mitch Gibbs made a late rally to pass Pennsylvania veteran Meme DeSantis en route to his second Southern Tier Open Modified victory on Oct. 30. Rick Virkitis, Rich Keehle Jr. and Bob Savoie rounded out the top five.
Other victors included: Jeremy Holt (Sportsman); Bill Trego (Street Stock); Randy Hall (IMCA/UMP); Shane Wolf (Pure Stock) and Nate Stevens (Four Cylinder Stock). Well over 150 competitors entered the program despite threatening skies.
The Southern Tier Open was run for the first time in 1970, complimenting the Southern Tier 100. Setting the races apart was open carburetion and more liberal rules for the Open. Canadian Ivan Little won the inaugural Southern Tier Open on Oct. 24, 1970.
Lou Lazzaro (1971), Frank Mears (1972), Stan Ploski (1973), Chuck Ciprich (1974) and Jack Johnson (1975) joined the list of Southern Tier Open winners before the race was discontinued for 25 years.
Dan Harpell resurrected the event in 2000, with Jim Crawn taking the win. Mike Colsten took the checkered first in 2001. Mitch Gibbs was victorious in 2002 as part of his 13-win season. In doing so, Gibbs joined Stan Ploski as one of two drivers to win both races in the same year (a feat he repeated in 2004). Rich Keehle Jr. rode the outside line to victory in the 2003 running of the Southern Tier Open.
The National Quarter Mile Dirt Track Championship Weekend, headlined by the 36th running of the Southern Tier 100, will bring down the curtain on the 2005 season at the Point. The date of that event will be announced in the near future, along with the complete '05 schedule and rules.
Practice sessions are scheduled for April 23 and 30, with the Season Opener set for May 7 featuring a 50-lapper for the Modifieds.
Once again in 2005, Five Mile Point Speedway will offer weekly Saturday night programs of Modifieds, Sportsman, Street Stocks, UMP Modifieds and Pure Stocks, along with appearances by the Figure Eights and other touring divisions.
For more information, contact the Five Mile Point Speedway office at (607) 775-5555 or visit the website: www.fivemilepointspeedway.net.