MECHANICSBURG, PA – Royersford, Pa.’s Steven Buckwalter will make an assault on both the USAC National Midget Car and Silver Crown Serie this season.
Buckwalter told AARN he’s got two Midgets of his own design (Elite Chassis) and one good motor ready in hopes of racing all but one of the 19 events planned for the division this season.
The USAC season opens on April 10 and 11 with a two day event at Indiana’s Kokomo Speedway. Buckwalter would then need to make another trip to Indiana to again run a two day event in Plymouth.
From there the schedule gets easy for him. The next five events planned are part of the annual Indiana Midget Week which he annually attends.
Up next are three events in four days in Kansas, which finishes with the big Belleville Nationals. Buckwalter plans to bring the Clara Ritter owned 410 Sprint Car west with him for this trip and go to Iowa’s Knoxville Nationals to compete while out west.
One of the reasons Buckwalter has chosen to give the USAC circuit a try is a swing planned this year in his own wheelhouse here in the east. From August 18 – 20, USAC will run at Pa.’s Path Valley, Lincoln and Susquehanna, all tracks Buckwalter has experience with while racing with the ARDC Midget series.
He’ll then end the year with his own car at a two day event at Tri-City Speedway in Illinois, and at Eldora, Ohio on September 26.
That leaves one race left on the USAC schedule, a November 26 event at California’s Perris Auto Speedway. Buckwalter said he was able to plug that hole while racing at the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Okla., this winter. A car owner from the west coast offered him a ride for that event so he doesn’t have to make the cross country trip with his own equipment.
The Midgets won’t be the only division keeping Buckwalter busy. Last year, he hooked up with USAC Silver Crown Series car owner Matt Shuck of Wisconsin to race that series finale held on the mile in Syracuse, N.Y.
Shuck was so impressed he’s offered Buckwalter the ride for this season. The Silver Crown Series has seven dirt events on the schedule this year and two (Belleville and Eldora) conveniently are on race weekends with the USAC Midget series.
When not on the road, Buckwalter will run Ritter’s Sprint Car on Friday nights at Williams Grove and Saturdays at Port Royal.
Look for Buckwalter to race Mark Coldren’s Sprint Car in mid-week special events. He started the season racing for Coldren in Florida in February. Coldren recently announced, however, that Doug Esh will drive for him as well in Central Penna. With Coldren planning to race himself in events at Susquehanna Speedway Park, Buckwalter wasn’t sure how many races he himself will get to race with Coldren this summer.
After struggling for much of the 2014 season with Ritter’s No. 17b, Buckwalter nearly pulled off a huge victory on Friday night at Williams Grove. After starting fifth, he moved into contention for the win when leader Mark Smith arrived into lapped traffic.
While Buckwalter was able to pass Smith, race winner Danny Dietrich passed them both to take the win. Buckwalter got a slow start on the only restart of the event, but then pulled back to Dietrich’s bumper before the checkered was thrown.
Afterwards, Buckwalter was thrilled. He was extremely impressed with a new Krimes built 410 engine that Ritter had purchased for him. In his first attempt with the motor, Buckwalter said his car was so much better even though it had the same set-up used on it unsuccessfully last year. He said the motor was more driveable, allowing him to keep the tires hooked up rather than spinning.
Buckwalter’s tires, like those of all other top runners, were bald afterwards. But they held enough air to get him to the finish. You could hardly see the numbers on the fuel tank thanks to a leaking rear-end seal, but the car finished up front and everyone was happy.