THE ROAD TO SPEEDWEEK
In the summer of 2004 Dan Little and Trip Kone crossed paths for the first time at a tiny track called Hill Valley Speedway in Orbisonia, PA with their sons, Brandon Little and Greg Kone. Each were driving 600cc micro sprint cars for their fathers. They knew each other to say hello when passing in the pits, nothing more. The following year, Dan’s son moved on to a larger V8 stock car class at the speedway, but Dan still fielded a car with driver Tim Dietz. Greg had purchased his first 600 from Tim Dietz’s uncle. Also named Tim Dietz. The two teams found a common bond and quickly became close friends both on and off the track. What followed in the ensuing years was a wealth of ideas of how to make the class stronger, keep the costs somewhat in check, keep the racing competitive, and still remain fun and give something back to the racer.
Central Pennsylvania is a dream come true for anyone who owns a 600cc micro sprint, boasting at least a dozen tracks within 60 miles of Harrisburg, PA on any given Friday or Saturday night from early April until late October. In addition to being able to race all of those tracks, one driver had the vision and ultimate energy to promote a $10,000.00 to win micro sprint race. Skeptics told him “There is no way you can get that sort of money together to sponsor a micro sprint race”. Fellow racer Dale Thomas thought differently of his idea, and the first PA “Super 600 Showdown” was held and was a success at the Hill Valley Speedway, and the idea caught on across the nation. Not willing to leave well enough alone after the first Showdown, Dan and Trip toyed with many ideas of how to energize the class even more. Sighting the Showdown was always held during the 4th of July weekend every year, many teams from across the country were using the time away from work to come to Pennsylvania with their families. Why not try to organize additional races during the week so the travel from distant places was worth the tow? The idea of a few races quickly became 6, and was immediately compared to the Ohio and Pennsylvania 410 Speedweek programs.
In 2007, the first annual program was a total shot in the dark as to whether the idea could be a success, and the limited amount of time to put such a week in order. Sponsors, track owners, teams, media, and other avenues needed to bring it all together in a hurry. Dan’s involvement in racing goes back many years, fielding a championship late model team with his brother at the helm. His connection to manufacturers is simply astounding, making a trip through the aisles at the PRI show in Orlando and very time consuming adventure! Trip is no stranger to the other side of racing either. He helped promote the now dormant KARS 358 sprint car series in Central PA as well as traveling with Brian Paulus on the WoO tour in the early part of the millennium. Dan hit the phones gathering sponsors while Trip talked to local track owners and promoters to see if such an idea was feasible, and it quickly became apparent that it was. How successful would it be was the only question that couldn’t be answered until after the week. The word began to spread across the nation about such a week, and the response was good, but would it actually happen was the question from the teams. The tow from California to Pennsylvania is not something you want to do and be disappointed when finally arriving in PA. International racers were even curious about visiting for such a week if it were to happen. July 2007 arrived and so did the racers, with tracks averaging 68 cars per venue and a weekly high of 123 cars at the Showdown, representing states from coast to coast and even teams from Australia. Running so many races in such a short time with purses considered huge to what 600 drivers race for weekly, a racing vacation with the whole family, the idea of racing someone from a different region of the country and making new friends and contacts apparently intrigued a lot of racers for the first year of the Speedweek shows.
In 2008, the second annual program brought many more teams that would now know it was a reality. Purse increases, more contingency prizes, huge micro sprint industry involvement, and a new launched web site all gave the week the additional credibility it needed. Close to $80,000 in money and prizes were awarded during the week. An average of 84 cars graced the pits at the weeks races and a high of 94 cars at Lincoln Speedway in Hanover, PA. The $10,000 showdown once again boasted over 100 cars on a rainy overcast day at the Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
In 2009, the third annual program kept growing. The purses grew again and were more racer friendly all the way through the “A” main field, as well as a complete pay-out for the “B” main and gift certificates for all “C” main competitors. In all, more than $100,000 was contested for. An average of 88 cars graced the pits at the weeks races and a high of 96 cars at Lincoln Speedway in Hanover, PA.
In 2010, the forth annual program saw slightly lower car counts due to the economy, but the week ended on an amazing note. An average of 68 cars graced the pits at the weeks races and a high of 78 cars at Lincoln Speedway in Hanover, PA. In the final race of 2010 know as Micro Mania an with two laps complete in the C-Main, one of our drivers was involved in a violent crash. His injuries were serious enough to warrant transportation to the Hershey Medical Center via the Life Lion helicopter. After the crash, all of the drivers and car owners were called to a meeting, and the decision was made to cancel the remainder of the racing program. The drivers and owners unanimously voted to donate the entire purse, totaling more than $26,000, to the injured drivers family to help cover the medical expenses. This gesture has been recognized as the most incredible and classiest thing ever seen in our sport.
In 2011, the fifth annual program was filed as the smoothest and most competitive series yet. Car counts were on the low side again due to the economy, but the week saw great weather and all 6 races were completed. The points title came down to the last lap of the last race.
The series has become a favorite of the racers because all of the sponsor monies and prizes go back to the racer. Dan and Trip do all of this because they believe in the sport and take no pay for doing it. If they did, that would be taking money from the racer, and that’s not what this wild week of micro sprint racing in PA is all about.